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ECLECTIC SCHOOL READINGS 



THE 



STORY OF OLD FRANCE 



BY 

H. A. GUERBER 




NEW YORK .:• CINCINNATI •:. CHICAGO 

AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY 

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Harvard Uftivcrslty 

Depti of EducaiiwM Library 

Gift of the Pubtl8h|ift 



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Copyright, 1910, by 
H. A. GUERBER. 

Entbrbd at Stationers' Hall, London. 



o. F. 
W. P. I 



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PREFACE . 

The aim of this volume is to give a complete graphic 
account of the main features of the history of France to 
1715 A.D., with as much additional illuminating detail as 
limited space permits. Besides outlines of the principal 
events, this narrative includes many biographical sketches, 
together with the anecdotes and sayings to which allusions 
are often made in literature, politics, and art. It also 
gives such data in regard to places, public buildings, and 
works of art as the well informed like to have at their 
fingers' ends. As the book is intended mainly for youth- 
ful readers, due regard has been paid to moral teachings 
and to the judicious omission of harmful incidents. 

The book is arranged for elementary history classes, 
and for supplementary reading as well. Some acquaint- 
ance with the history of France is most helpful in under- 
standing and studying literature, and English, American, 
Medieval, and General history. Besides, in schools where 
French is taught, it can serve as a work of reference for 
the pupils, who continually stumble across names and 
allusions which require elucidation.' The author, there- 
fore, hopes many schools will find this narrative useful in 
one or the other connection, and that it will appeal equally 
to teachers and pupils and perhaps to other readers also. 

Many names occur and recur in the text because 
familiarity with their appearance is desirable from an 
educational point of view. Where the pronunciation seems 
difficult, it has been carefully indicated the first time the 

^ uigiTizeaDy Google 



4 PREFACE 

name appears, and the indication is repeated in the index. 
Before the day's reading, a few minutes may profitably 
be given to the pronunciation of such names by the 
teacher, with their repetition by the pupils. This process 
will facilitate the reading and hence increase the interest. 
Names in parenthesis need not be read aloud, sight ac- 
quaintance with them being all that is expected of young 
readers, so the pronunciation of those names is given in 
the index only. 



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TABLE OF CONTENTS 



CHAPTER PAGE 

I. France Long Ago ii 

II. How THE Gauls came inix> France 13 

III. The Priests of the Gauls 16 

IV. Sailor Stories 20 

V. Conquests of the Gauls .12 

VI. Two Great Battles 24 

VII. Caesar in Gaul 27 

VIII. Gaul under the Romans . . . . . . .31 

IX. The First Christian Martyrs 36 

X. The Patron Saint of P'rance 38 

XI. How THE Franks came into (Jaul 41 

XII. The First Kings 44 

XIII. Conversion and Conquests of Clovis .... 49 

XIV. Clotaire and his Relatives 53 

XV. Two Rival Queens 57 

XVI. Good King Dagobert and his Succkssoks ... 60 

XVII. The Saracens Checked 63 

XVIII. The End of the Merovingians 65 

XIX. Charlemagne's Wars 68 

XX. Charlemagne's Manner of Like 73 

XXI. Charlemagne, Emperor 77 

XXII. Feudalism 82 

XXIII. Troublesome Sons 86 

XXIV. The Strassburc; Oaih 89 

XXV. The Normans besikgk Paris 92 

XXVI. The Ijvst of the Carolingians 96 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS 



CHAPTER PAGE 

XXVII. The Year One Thousand 99 

XXVIII. Robert's Two Wives loi 

XXIX. The Wealth of the Clergy 105 

XXX. The First Crusade 109 

XXXI. A Love Story ; . . .113 

XXXII. The Second Crusade ' 116 

XXXIII. More Crusades . i 119 

XXXIV. The Battle of Bouvines 123 

XXXV. Regency of Bijvnche of Castile 126 

XXXVI. The Sixth Crusade 129 

XXXVII. The Reign of Louis IX 132 

XXXVIII. Effect of the Crusades 135 

XXXIX. The Battle of the Spurs 138 

XL. Death of the Knights Templar 142 

XLI. The Beginning of the Hundred Years' War . . 145 

XLII. The Siege of Calais 148 

XLIII. The Battle of Poitiers 154 

XLIV. Seven Years of Misery (1356- 1363) . . . .159 

XLV. The Brave Du Guesclin 164 

XLVI. The Achievements of Charles V 167 

XLVII. Charles VI 172 

XLVIII. Misrule in France 178 

XLIX. The Disgraceful Treaty 182 

L. Joan to the Rescue 185 

LI. Orleans and Rheims 189 

LII. Joan's Captivity and Martyrdom . . . .193 

LIII. Charles's Successes 198 

LIV. The Crafty King Louis XI 201 

LV. Beginning of Louis XL's Reign 204 

LVI. Achievements of Louis XI 209 

LVII. Charles VIII 212 

LVIII. Second Italian War 218 

LIX. Death of Louis XII 221 

LX. Francis I 226 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS 7 

CHAPTER PAGE 

LXI. Rivalry of Kings 230 

LXII. Achievements of Francis 1 236 

LXIII. The End of Francis I.'s Reign 239 

LXiV. The Reign of Henry II 245 

LXV. A Young King and Queen 250 

LXVI. Catherine's Recjency 253 

LXVII. The Forced Wedding ....... 257 

LXVIII. The Massacre of the Huguenots . . . .261 

LXIX. Death of Charles IX. 264 

LXX. An Effeminate King 267 

LXXI. The Battle of Coutras 271 

LXXII. The Murder of the Guises 274 

LXXIII. Winning a Crown 280 

LXXIV. Conversion of Henry IV 285 

LXXV. Henry IV.'s Second Marriage 291 

LXXVI. Death of Henry IV 294 

LXXVII. The Minority of Louis XIII 298 

LXXVIII. The Rule of Favorites . . . ... . 302 

LXXIX. Richelieu and Louis XIII 307 

LXXX. End of Louis XIII.'s Reign 312 

LXXXI. The Beginning of a Great Reign . . . .316 

LXXXII. The Wars of the Fronde 320 

LXXXIII. Death of Mazarin 324 

LXXXIV. Versailles 328 

LXXXV. The Iron Mask 334 

LXXXVI. Louis XIV.'s Personal Campaigns .... 337 

LXXXVII. Madame de Maintenon 343 

LXXXVIII. Later Wars of Louis XIV 348 

LXXXIX. The Spanish Succession 351 

XC. The Age of Louis XIV 355 

Genealogy of the Merovingian Race 361 

Genealogy of the Carolingian Race 362 

Genealogy of the Capetian Race 363-365 

Index ^^ 366, 

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AND NEIGHBORING STATES 

Boundaries as in 1547 
Spanish Territory 
AuKtrinn Territory 
Boundary of the f^mplre 




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THE STORY OF OLD FRANCE 



I. FRANCE LONG AGO 

THE beautiful stretch of land bounded by the Rhine, 
the Alps, the Mediterranean, the Pyr'enees, and the 
Atlantic Ocean was once a wild extent of forests and 
swamps, inhabited by men of a strange race. 

These first settlers were so rough and uncivilized that 
they dwelt in caves, or in round huts which they built 
from leafy branches. They gathered nuts, berries, and 




r"i->fhii fit ■!<* 



A Tragedy of the Stone Age. 
II 



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12 OLD FRANCE 

other fruits wherever they grew, and with sharp stones or 
shells they dug up roots which they ate raw. They made 
stone arrowheads and spearheads, which they used in 
hunting all kinds of animals, such as the mammoth, the 
cave bear, and especially a species of wild ox which no 
longer exists. 

The woods were full of game in those early days, and 
the rivers and streams were alive with fish, which the 
people caught and ate raw, or dried for future use. The 
dress of these savages was made of the skins of the ani- 
mals they had slain, pinned together with big thorns, 
skewers of hard wood, or sharp fishbones. 

What became of the cave men, no one knows. Later 
settlers were dark-haired I-be'rians and fair-haired Celts, 
who knew how to plant, keep cattle, cook their food, and 
make pottery. ' They were divided into many great fami- 
lies, or tribes, each of which formed a little nation by it- 
self. As each tribe wished to have the best fishing and 
hunting grounds, and the best pastures, all its members 
were ready to fight any one else so as to win and keep 
them. 

These early peoples had a religion of their own, and 
believed in life after death. Therefore they buried their 
dead in caves or rough stone tombs, placing beside them 
the weapons, ornaments, and clothing which they thought 
the dead would need in their new life. They also left 
in the tombs supplies of food in earthen vessels, so that the 
dead might have provisions enough for their journey to a 
better world, and be able to begin their new lives there 
comfortably. Of course most of the bodies thus buried 
fell in time into dust ; but a few were laid in such dry 



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THE GAULS 13 

caves or tombs that their remains were found hundreds 
of years later, still well preserved. 

Human skeletons, bones of animals and fishes, stone 
weapons, bone combs, earthen vessels, ornaments, and 
even shreds of garments have been discovered in such 
places, and are now carefully treasured in museums. Thus 
people of the present day can see for themselves what 
tools, weapons, and household articles these savages used, 
and can imagine how they lived long years ago. 



0:^0 



II. HOW THE GAULS CAME INTO FRANCE 

THE first home of the Celtic, or Keltic, people, thou- 
sands of years ago, was probably somewhere in 
eastern Europe or western Asia. As they grew in num- 
bers, from time to time tribes of them were forced to leave 
home to seek new hunting and fishing grounds, or better 
pasture for their cattle. Thus at a very early period somb 
of these Celts made their way to the land between the 
Rhine and the Atlantic, which they disputed with the 
Iberians, while others settled in the British Isles.^ At a 
later period, still many centuries before Christ, they were 
followed by younger tribes of Celts, or Gauls. As these 
newcomers were stronger and better armed than the earlier 
settlers, thfcy soon gained possession of the best parts of 
the country. 

These Gauls were more advanced in knowledge than 
the earlier Celts and the Iberians, and were taller and 

^See Guerber's Story of the English^ pi>. 16-20, 

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14 OLD FRANCE 

better looking, with fair skin, blue eyes, and long hair. 
They were strong and active and afraid of nothing. 
They spoke in harsh tones, and often boasted loudly of 
the deeds they had done or were going to do. 

They knew how to work metals, and to spin and weave, 
so they owned good tools and weapons, and wore breeches, 
shirts, and cloaks woven from the wool of their sheep. 
They liked gay colors and pretty ornaments, and there- 
fore fastened their plaid garments with bright metal clasps, 
some of which still exist, to show that they were no mean 
artists! Besides some horses, they owned sheep, cows, 
and great droves of pigs. 

The Gauls generally went bareheaded, their long hair 
being gathered together and tied on top of their heads, 
whence it streamed loose in the breeze, like a horse's tail. 
All the warriors took special pride in the length and thick- 
ness of their halt, which they carefully combed and often 
rubbed with rancid butter, so as to keep it thick and glossy. 
As they shaved off their beards and wore long mustaches, 
they looked very fierce when they brandished their bronze 
spears and battle-axes, and uttered their blood-curdling 
war cry, " Off with their heads ! " 

The Gauls believed that the souls of brave men passed 
after death into new, strong bodies; and therefore they 
rushed into battle without any fear. When one of their 
chiefs fell, his body was placed on a huge funeral 
pyre, where it was burned with his horse, his dogs, 
his weapons, garments, ornaments, utensils, and booty. 
Sometimes some of his slaves were killed and burned 
with him, so that the chief should have servants to wait 
upon him in his new life. The Gauls fancied, too, that 



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The Funeral of a Chief. 



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i6 OLD FRANCE 

the souls of cowards passed after death into the bodies of 
vile animals. Each father, therefore, taught his sons to 
be fearless, so that they should be honored h^re on earth, 
arid be happy hereafter. 

The women were nearly as tall and strong as the men, 
but even more handsome, and were greatly respected. 
They wore long linen gowns, and dyed their hair red — a 
color they greatly admired. They were so brave that they 
not only encouraged their husbands, sons, and brothers 
to fight, but often went into battle themselves, side by side 
with the men. 

Most of the warriors went from place to place and 
fought on foot; but the bravest and richest rode fine 
horses, around whose necks they hung ghastly necklaces, 
made of the skulls of the enemies they had slain in battle. 
A few also drove in war chariots, which had sharp scythes 
fastened to their wheels. These dashed into the enemy's 
ranks, mowing them down like ripe grain, if they did not 
turn and run away in sudden terror. 



III. THE PRIESTS OF THE GAULS 

THE Gauls believed that the sun, moon, and stars, the 
thunder, wind, and all the forces of nature were gods, 
and they worshiped them in the open air, under tall oaks 
or in the dim recesses of the great forest. Their priests, 
called Dru'ids, often sacrificed horses on their big stone 
altars in time of peace ; but in time of war, or whenever any 
danger threatened, human victims were offered up there 
instead. All the prisoners of war who did not become 

uigitizea oy vjiOOQlC 



THE GAULS 17 

slaves were kept for this purpose, and when there were 
too many captives to sacrifice singly, the Druids crammed 
them all into huge wicker cages, shaped like men, in 
which they were burned alive. 

The Gauls felt the deepest respect for their Druids, 
and thought that the men Druids — who were their 
teachers and judges — knew all the magic arts, while 
the women Druids could tell exactly what would happen 
in the future. The Druids were chosen from among 
the cleverest men and women of the race, and were 
taught orally by older priests, who knew far more than 
the rest of the people, but who kept their knowledge 
secret. They did not, for instance, tell the people that 
they had found a way to lift heavy weights by means of 
levers and pulleys. On the contrary, they used such 
means to raise great stone altars and monuments in secret, 
and then made the people believe that they had moved 
the stones into place by magic words, or by a mere touch 
of their wands. 

In many places in France one can still see strange re- 
mains of the early work of these Druids, or Gallic priests. 
There are huge pillars which stand upright, stones of 
great size arranged in rows or circles ; and large rocks rest- 
ing upon upright slabs, forming covered passageways or 
gigantic altars. The most wonderful remains of all can be 
seen at Carnac' in Brit'tany, where more than a thousand 
stones, about sixteen feet high, are set up in the ground in 
long,* straight rows. From afar they look like an army of 
stone giants. We are told that there were once more than 
four thousand of them, but some fell down, and many were 
cut up and carted away to build houses by people near 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



i8 



OLD FRANCE 




Druid Stones at Carnac, Brittany. 

by, who were too ignorant to respect one of the greatest 
curiosities of the Old World. 

Another trace of the old Druid religion is our custom of 
decorating our houses at Christmas time with holly and 
mfstletoe — plants loved by the Gauls of old. 

The Druids were the most important men among the 
Gauls ; next came the Bards, or singers, who made poems 
about the deeds of the chiefs, or riders, — the military 
leaders who formed the third class. Then came the war- 
riors who fought afoot, the workmen, the farmers, and last 
of all the serfs, or slaves, who were generally captives 
secured in time of war. 

At first each tribe of Gauls held everything in common, 
and each man was given his share, all the booty being "flung 
into a heap after a battle was over, to be publicly divided 
by the chiefs. Land, too, was at first held in common, and 
every spring, at a general meeting, it was portioned out 

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THE GAULS 19 

anew among the families of the tribe. At these assemblies, 
which all the Gallic warriors attended, it was also decided 
in what direction war should next be carried. To force 
men to keep in good fighting trim and to be prompt, the 
fat warriors were severely punished, and the last to appear 
at the trysting spot was put to death. 

After some time the Gauls saw that a yearly distribu- 
tion of farms was as bad for the land as for the farmers, so 
they decided that each family should keep its own fields. 
The farmers, knowing they would not have to move as 
soon as spring came around again, were therefore en- 
couraged to build better houses, to fell trees, drain marshes, 
and to plant and sow diligently. Thus they began the 
work which was to change that country from a tangled 
waste into one of the best cultivated regions in the world. 

The Gauls were a friendly, hospitable, generous, and 
very quick-witted race, and soon after settling in the country 
they began to make many improvements there. They 
tilled the ground, worked the mines, and, being restless by 
nature, soon carried on some trade among themselves and 
with neighboring peoples. Still, as they had at first neither 
money nor good roads, their trade consisted mostly in barter, 
and was carried on under great difficulties. 

Little by little the Gauls increased in wealth, civilization, 
and numbers, until in time they spread all over the countries 
now known as France, Belgium, and Switzerland. This 
stretch of land, once occupied by Gauls, was therefore 
known in ancient geography as Gal'Ua, or Gaul, the land 
of the Gauls. Here many towns were founded, some of 
which still bear the names then given them, although they 
are now large and prosperous modern cities. 

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20 OLD FRANCE 



IV. SAILOR STORIES 



ALTHOUGH the Gauls were more advanced than the 
earlier peoples in France, there were other early 
nations far more civilized than they — such as the Phcen!'- 
cians and the Greeks. 

The Phoenicians owned only a narrow strip of land in 
Asia, but they were born sailors and traders, and soon 
learned to know all the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. 
When some Phoenician traders first reached the southern 
shore of Gaul, perhaps as early as 1300 b.c, they made 
friends with the natives, as usual, and began to trade their 
goods and trinkets for furs and metal. 

The Phoenicians were manufacturers as well as traders, 
and were anxious to get as much metal as possible to make 
fine weapons. They therefore taught the Gauls how to 
become good miners, and encouraged them to bring tin 
from the British islands,^ as well as gold, silver, and copper 
from the interior of Gaul. 

For many years the Phoenicians were the only strangers 
to land in Gaul, but in the ninth century some traders came 
from the island of Rhodes, and it was they, we suppose, 
who named the river Rhone after their island. After the 
Phoenicians and Rhodians came some Greeks, who not only 
carried on trade with Gaul, but founded some settlements 
there. 

Sailors, you know, like to spin yams, which are often 
interesting, even if they are not true. The ancient sailors 
were like those of to-day. Some of them made up a long 
story which told of the visit of the god Her'cules in Gaul. 

1 Story of the English^ pp. 19-20. 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



THE GAULS 21 

While there, they said, he was attacked by the sons of 
Neptune, god of the sea, who would have defeated him, 
had not his father Jupiter caused a rain of stones to fall 
down from heaven to rout the enemy. If any one doubted 
this story, he was told to look at the plain near the mouth 
of the Rhone River, where stones lay in heaps — the very 
missiles which had rained down from the sky ! 

It was also said that Hercules founded the city of 
Nimes (neem) in Gaul; that he made great gaps in the 
Alps, so that the people could trade with Italy ; and that 
he then wandered off to Spain, where he tore some huge 
rocks apart, to open a passage so that the waters of the 
Mediterranean could flow out into the Atlantic Ocean. 
The heights on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar were 
therefore called the Pillars of Hercules. 

An interesting story was told about the first voyage of 
Greeks to Gaul. A Gallic chief, it is said, invited the 
Greek captain to attend a feast which he was giving to all 
the unmarried men in the neighborhood. The stranger 
accepted this invitation, enjoyed the feast, and when it 
was over, saw the chief's daughter enter the hall, carrying 
a cupful of wine. Clad in white, with broad ornaments of 
gold clasped around her arms and waist, and heavy braids of 
golden hair falling nearly to her feet, this maiden seemed so 
beautiful that the Greek captain stared at her in surprise. 

One of the guests then told him that, according to the 
custom of the country, the girl was going to choose a hus- 
band among her father's guests, by handing the cup she 
carried to the man who pleased her most. To the amaze- 
ment of all, the maiden gave this cup to the stranger. He 
married her and settled down in her country, where he is 

uigiTizea Dy VJjOOQIC 



22 OLD FRANCE 

said to have founded the city of Marseilles (mar-salz') in 

6(X) B.C. 

There is no doubt that about this time the Greeks began 
to trade all along the seashore, and that they founded not 
only Marseilles but several other cities in southern France. 
They encouraged art and learning as well «is trade, and 
for a long time Marseilles was the most important city 
in Gaul; so, many young men went there to study, just 
as they go to some famous college now. 



»<>s*<®* 



V. CONQUESTS OF THE GAULS 

WHILE many of the Gallic tribes settled down, as 
we h^ve seen, occupying themselves with tilling 
and trading, others delighted in nothing but war. About 
550 B.C. some of them passed over the Alps to conquer 
northern Italy. There they founded Mil'an, which be- 
came the principal city of Cisal'pine Gaul (" Gaul this side 
of the Alps"), as the Romans called it, to distinguish it 
from the other, older Gaul, which was known as Transal- 
pine Gaul (" Gaul on the other side of the Alps"). 

Not content with conquering northern Italy, some of the 
Gauls later on tried to extend their conquests farther to the 
south. As you have doubtless read in your Roman history, 
a great army from Cisalpine Gaul once marched against 
Rome, defeated the Roman army, murdered the old senators 
sitting in their chairs in the Forum, and laid siege to the 
Capitol (390 B.C.); but a Roman general finally defeated 
them, so that they went back home.^ 

1 Guerber's Story of the Romans^ pp. 103-108. 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



ROMANS AND GAULS 23 

Meantime, other tribes of Gauls had settled in the Dan- 
ube valley, where one day some of them met Alexander 
the Great (356-323 b.c.). He admired these bold warriors, 
and asked what they most feared. It is said that one chief 
answered proudly, " The Gauls fear nothing, save the fall- 
ing of the skies ! " and that another added, " And if the 
skies fall, we will hold them up with our lances." 

Descendants of these bold Gauls invaded Greece about 
forty years after Alexander's death, to rob the temple 
of Del'phi of its treasures. A Greek writer, however, 
says that as the Gauls approached Delphi a sudden thunder- 
storm and earthquake filled their hearts with superstitious 
terror, so that, brave as they were, they turned and fled ! 
The Greeks believed that their god Pan had frightened 
the barbarians away from the temple, and ever since then, 
people seized by a sudden terror are said to be "panic- 
stricken." 

Some of these Gauls wandered restlessly on to Asia, 
where they settled in a country known as Gala'tia, which 
became a Roman province about two hundred years later. 
In the New Testament you will find an epistle addressed 
to these Galatians, or eastern Gauls. 

There were Gauls from the Danube in the army which 
Pyr'rhus led against Rome.^ Indeed, many Gauls were 
so anxious to fight that they offered their services to any 
nation making war. This gave rise to the Roman saying, 
" No army without Gauls." The Cisalpine Gauls were 
conquered by the Romans about 220 b.c. ; but many of 
them helped Han'nibal attack Rome, and had to be con- 
quered a second time.* 

* Story of the Romans^ pp. 115-121. ^ Ibid., pp. 128-139. 

uigiTizea oy ^wnOOQlC 



24 OLD FRANCE 

The Romans were just thinking that it might be wise to 
seize also the southern part of Transalpine Gaul, and they 
were trying to find a good excuse to begin war, when the 
people of Marseilles asked for Roman aid against some 
of their Gallic neighbors. The Romans gladly sent an 
army, which soon found itself face to face with a much 
larger army of Gauls. The Gallic chief scornfully remarked 
that there were not enough Romans to furnish his dogs 
with a square meal ! But when the battle began, he found 
that they were no mean foes, for with their better weapons 
and their better training, they utterly defeated the fierce 
Gauls. The Gauls said, however, that they were beaten 
because their hearts were filled with terror by the great 
size and loud trumpeting of some war elephants in the 
Roman ranks. 

By this and other victories the Romans conquered the 
southeastern part of Gaul, from the Alps to the Pyrenees 
(125-120 B.C.). This territory was long known as the 
Province, and the name Provence (pro-vaNss') is still 
retained by a small part of it. The city of Narbonne 
(nar-bon') was founded as the capital, other Roman 
towns soon arose there, and civilization made rapid 
progress. 



VI. TWO GREAT BATTLES 

THE people of the Province were both peaceful and 
happy, when a new danger suddenly threatened to 
destroy them. News came that two great tribes of bar- 
barians from the shores of the Baltic Sea — the Cim'bri 



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ROMANS AND GAULS 



25 



and Teu'tons — were marching southward in search of 
new homes. As they were not nearly so civilized as the 
Gauls, they recklessly destroyed everything they found 
which they could not appreciate or carry away. 




Barbarians invading Gaul. 

The peaceful Gauls, unable to defend themselves against 
these great hordes of barbarians, fled in terror, watching 
from afar the destruction of their towns and farms, while 
the Romans and fighting Gauls bravely tried to drive the 
invaders away. But their efforts were vain against such 
huge numbers ; they were defeated in battle after battle. 
The invaders swept on through Gaul, and even crossed the 
Pyrenees into Spain. Still, knowing that the barbarians 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



26 OLD FRANCE 

would soon return to ravage the Province on their way to 
Italy, the Romans sent Ma'rius, their greatest general, 
thither to block the way and prevent their passing the 
Alps. 

While waiting near Aix, Marius built fortifications and 
drilled his men, until he felt sure they could stand any 
fatigue or hardship, and would fear nothing. Fortunately, 
the invaders divided their forces: the Cimbri hastened 
directly to the Alps, while the Teutons tried first to defeat 
Marius. When they came up, they tauntingly called out 
to the men: "Have you any messages to send to your 
wives in Italy? We shall be with them soon ! '* 

The Roman soldiers, weary with many months of wait- 
ing, burned to avenge these insults, but Marius held them 
in check until the right time came, and then they fought 
so bravely that they utterly destroyed the immense force of 
barbarians. The men were slain, and their wives, rather 
than fall into the hands of the enemy, killed their children 
and defended themselves until they, too, were slain. Even 
the Teuton dogs had been trained to fight so fiercely that 
the Romans had to kill them before they could draw near 
the rude wagons which were heavily laden with spoil. 

It is said that 150,000 bodies lay on the ground after this 
awful battle near Aix (102 B.C.). In fact, so much blood 
was shed, and so many bodies decayed there, that the soil 
was made rich; and many years after, fences were still 
built of the bones of the fallen barbarians. 

Marius having met and defeated one division of the foe, 
hastened back into Italy to check the advance of the 
second, for the Cimbri were now pouring over the Alps 
into Italy. On coming near Marius and his army, the 

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ROMANS AND GAULS 27 

Cimbri haughtily demanded land for themselves and for 
their allies the Teutons, who, they declared, would soon 
want some too. Marius grimly answered that the Teutons 
already had all the land they needed, and that they could 
keep it forever ; then, seeing the Cimbri did not understand 
the ghastly joke, he showed them some of the bloody heads 
of their slain allies. 

The sight of these horrible trophies, instead of frighten- 
ing the Cimbri, only spurred them on to greater efforts. 
They made ready for battle by binding themselves together 
with ropes to keep their ranks firm ; but their movements 
were thus hampered, and in spite of their bravery they 
met the same fate as the Teutons.^ 

It was thus that Marius saved the Roman Republic 
from the northern barbarians, and his two great victories 
(near Aix and in Italy) won him so much renown that 
he became a great political leader at Rome. But his dis- 
putes with a powerful rival soon brought about a civil 
war, which lasted a long while, and prevented the com- 
plete conquest of Gaul for nearly half a century. 



VII. CiESAR IN GAUL 

IN 58 B.C. news came to Rome that the Helve' tians — a 
people living in the country now called Switzerland 
— were about to leave their homes in a body, and cross 
Gaul to settle near the Atlantic Ocean. As these people 
were fir from civilized, the Gauls dreaded their passage, 

* Story of the RqmqnSy pp. 157, 158, 

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28 OLD FRANCE 

and therefore implored the Romans to prevent their leav- 
ing home. 

In answer to this appeal, Julius Caesar went northward 
with a Roman army. He won a battle and forced the 
Helvetians to return to their old homes, to which they had 
set fire on leaving. He then asked for an interview with 
a German chief, Ariovis'tus, who had invaded Gaul and 
had camped with his warriors near the river Sadne (son). 
The barbarian haughtily answered : " If I needed Caesar, I 
would go to him ; if Caesar needs me, let him come to me." 

This proud answer greatly displeased the messengers, 
who informed Ariovistus that he had better take care lest 
he rouse their anger ; but he fearlessly replied : " No one 
has ever attacked me yet without repenting of it. We will 
measure our strength whenever Caesar pleases, and he will 
then learn what it is to face warriors who have not slept 
under a roof for the past fourteen years." 

This defiant message so frightened the Roman soldiers 
that they refused to go a step farther until Caesar cried : 
" If all others forsake me, I will go on alone with the tenth 
legion ; that one will not desert me ! '* Ashamed of their 
cowardice, the other soldiers now obeyed, but they were so 
sure they were going to die that they all made their wills 
before they went into battle. 

Caesar pressed on with his army and beat Ariovistus. 
His first campaign in Gaul thus made the Romans masters 
of all the valley of the Rhone and Sadne rivers. 

In his second and third campaigns, Caesar fought in 
what is now Belgium, and the western part of France, and 
nearly completed the conquest of all Gaul. But the peo- 
ple were not yet ready to obey Rome tamely, so in later 



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ROMANS AND GAULS 29 

campaigns Caesar had to put down several revolts of dif- 
ferent tribes, and was even obliged to cross the Rhine to 
awe the Germans, who encouraged the Gauls in their 
efforts to drive the hated Romans out of their country. 

Caesar was not only a brave general but a well-educated 
man, and he wrote an account of his Gallic wars, which is 
the best history of what he did. In that book, part of 
which all the Latin pupils read in school, he cleverly 
described the people he met, who were the ancestors of 
three of the leading nations in Europe — the French, the 
Germans, and the British. 

The most serious of all the revolts in Gaul was planned by 
the chief of a central tribe, named Vercinget'orix. He was 
tall, strong, and very brave, and had so great an influence 
over his people that they swore never to see their wives 
and children again until they had passed twice through 
the ranks of their enemies. 

But the Gauls were still barbarians, and unfortunately 
they did not obey this chief perfectly. When he com- 
manded those near Caesar's army to destroy all their stores, 
they coolly decided to save their principal fortified city 
(now Bourges), where they had large supplies. Caesar 
took this town and thus secured plentiful supplies for 
his legions, which might otherwise have starved there in 
the winter season. 

Caesar then attacked and defeated several tribes 
separately before besieging A-le'si-a, a place where Vercin- 
getorix and the main part of his warriors had taken 
refuge. Alesia was perched on a high hill, and was well 
fortified. Not being able to reach it, Caesar built earth- 
works all around it, so that none, of the Gauls could pass 



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(3o) 



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ROMANS AND GAULS 31 

in or out, and mounted guard so vigilantly that he baffled 
all the warriors who tried to break through his blockade 
to reach their besieged countrymen. 

The Gauls held out until no food of any kind was left, 
and then the starved garrison, having suffered untold 
agonies, had to surrender (52 B.C.). Vercingetorix, hoping 
to secure better terms for his people, rode down alone into 
Caesar's camp, in full battle array, galloped up to the spot 
where the general was seated, proudly flung his arms down 
at his feet, and dismounting, sat down in the dust before 
him, silently holding out his hands for the chains which 
he knew were awaiting him. Vercingetorix w^s bound 
and taken to Rome, where a few years later he appeared 
a captive in Caesar's triumph. When that last humilia- 
tion was over, he was taken back to prison and beheaded 
by a slave, while his conqueror was making his thanks- 
giving offering in the Roman Capitol. 

The attempt of Vercingetorix to free his country from 
the yoke of the Romans was so brave and so noble that 
he is considered a great hero and the first French cham- 
pion of liberty. His statue has therefore been placed on 
the very spot where he once made his hopeless stand 
against the Roman legions under Caesar, and his name 
is well known and dearly loved by all French children. 



VIII. GAUL UNDER THE ROMANS 

DURING Caesar's last campaigns in Gaul, he cap- 
tured so many prisoners that it is said every 
soldier in the Roman army had at least one Gallic slave 



uigiTizea oy ^^jv/v/x i^ 



32 OLD FRANCE 

to wait upon him; but in spite of crushing defeats the 
Gauls rose again and again, until Caasar punished the 
rebels by chopping off their right hands. This ended 
the Gallic wars. 

In eight years — from 58 to 50 B.C. -^ Caesar made 
eight campaigns in Gaul, took eight hundred towns, con- 
quered three hundred tribes, and defeated more than three 
hundred thousand warriors. About one third of the 
people were killed, and another third were reduced to 
slavery, so when the war was over only about one third 
of the Gauls were still left in their old homes. 

It is because Caesar accomplished so very much in so 
short a time that he is considered the greatest general in 
Roman history. He afterwards showed himself a wise 
statesman by allowing the conquered Gauls to sit in the 
Roman senate, to fight in the Roman legions, and to enjoy 
all the rights of Roman citizenship, so that they soon made 
friends with their former enemies, the Romans ; and in 
later times, Gauls even became Emperors of Rome. 

Roman generosity toward these conquered foes thus 
bore good fruit. The Gauls in the southeastern part of 
the country — the first to submit quietly to the new rule, 
— quickly learned the Roman language and ways. Under 
the direction of their conquerors they cut down forests, 
drained marshes, built towns, and erected beautiful tem- 
ples, aqueducts, baths, theaters, and houses, some of 
which still exist to call forth the admiration of travelers. 
When the Romans first came into Gaul, the greater part 
of the country was wild and densely wooded. They found 
the soil very rich and productive, and before long the 
greater part of France was turned into cultivated fields, 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



ROMANS AND GAULS 



33 



olive groves, and vineyards. Commerce and industry in- 
creased rapidly. 

The Romans fixed the capital of Gaul at Lyons. Not 
only was this city centrally located, but it also stood at the 
junction of two great rivers, the Rhone and the Sadne, and 
was the starting point for four great Roman roads, which 




Roman Aqueduct near Nines. 

led to the Rhine, to the Channel, to the ocean, and to the 
Mediterranean Sea. As these roads were the only good 
ones in the country at that time, they were much used, 
and any traveler going from Rome, or from the south to 
any part of northern France, Germany, or Britain, was 
pretty sure to pass through Lyons on his way. 

After Caesar died, his nephew Augustus became Em- 
peror, and ruled over Italy and all the Roman provinces. 
Although in some ways less generous to the Gauls than 
Caesar, he treated them well, and visited Lyons, where he 

uigitizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



34 OLD FRANCE 

iriade a speech which is stiirpreserved there on tablets of 
bronze. 

He divided Gaul into four provinces, ruled by consuls, 
allowed the cities to govern themselves, established schools, 
and placed Roman legions along the Rhine to protect the 
country from the inroads of the northern barbarians. The 
Romans now had to defend Gaul, because most of the 
people -left in that country were peaceful farmers and 
workmen. 

Augustus and his successors forbade human sacrifices 
in Gaul, but for a time they allowed the Druids to go on 
• practicing their religion, and gave the Gallic gods a place 
beside their own in the Roman Panthe'on, or temple for 
all gods. Then they cleverly showed the Gauls that there 
was, after all, very little difference between the two modes 
of worship, for both adored a god of war, for instance, 
although he was called Mars in Rome and He'sus in Gaul. 
Thus, little by little, they brought about a change in 
religion, so that Druid worship was nearly over by the 
middle of the first century of the Christian era. 

The Gauls were so clever that some of them not only 
learned all the Romans could teach them, but soon became 
greater scholars, better builders, and more skillful work- 
men than their teachers. They were quite comfortable at 
first under Roman rule, although some of the tax collectors 
proved dishonest, and asked more than was due. This was, 
however, against the wish of the Emperor Augustus, and 
when he discovered that one man had done so, he went to him 
and accused him of stealing. This man, knowing the Em- 
peror loved money, escaped punishment by giving Augus- 
tus all the stolen goods, saying : " Behold the treasure I 



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ROMANS AND GAULS 35 

have gathered ; I was afraid if the Gauls kept so much gold 
they would use it against thee ; I now deliver it to thee/* 
It is' said that Augustus accepted this bribe, pretending to 
believe that the tax collector had stated the truth ! 

Unjust taxes caused several revolts among the Gauls 
during the first century of the Christian era. One of these 
started in Belgium, where the chiefs, finding themselves 
defeated, chose death in preference to slavery. Another 
revolt, a few years later, was led by a Gaul who, on asking 
a Druidess for advice, was forbidden to fight before the new 
moon. The Romans, having discovered this, attacked the 
rebels before the time appointed, and as the Gauls dared 
not disobey the orders of their prophetess, nearly all of 
them were slain. 

Sabi'nus, one of their number, who had been elected 
king, seeing no other hope of escape, set fire to his own 
house and, plunging through the flames, took refuge in a 
stone vault or cellar, where the fire could not reach him. 
His own companions, as well as the Romans, thought he 
had perished, and only his wife and one faithful slave 
were aware of his being still alive. 

To beguile his loneliness, his faithful wife forsook all 
and dwelt nine years with her husband in his dark retreat, 
where they brought up the two little sons sent to cheer 
them. Only twice in all those years did the poor woman 
leave the vault, and then it was only in hopes of discover- 
ing some safe means of escape for her husband. Mean- 
time, the trusty slave daily brought them food, until a 
suspicious Roman watched him and discovered the secret. 

The whole family was then dragged before the Emperor 
Vespa'sian, and the poor woman fell at his feet with both 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



36 OLD FRANCE 

her sons, crying, " Behold ! I nursed these children in the 
tomb, that we might be more to implore your forgiveness ! ** 
But the Emperor had resolved to make an example of Sabi- 
nus, and coldly sentenced him to death. The unhappy wife 
thereupon exclaimed, ** Then put me to death also, for I 
have been happier with him in the darkness underground 
than you have ever been on your imperial throne ! ** 

Her wish was granted : husband and wife died, as they 
had lived, together; but their children received a good 
education, and a famous Roman writer tells us that he met 
one of them in the temple of Delphi many years later. 



IX. THE FIRST CHRISTIAN MARTYRS 

DURING the second century of our era, a great 
change took place, not in the government, but in 
the religion, of Gaul. The Romans had fancied that the 
time would soon come when their religion would entirely 
replace that of the Druids, but Christianity was about to 
overthrow both kinds of pagan worship. 

The new religion was first preached by Jesus and his dis- 
ciples in the first half of the first century. The earliest 
Christian church in Gaul was founded at Lyons, about a 
hundred years later, by the good bishop Pothi'nus, who 
preached the Gospel and won many converts, not only 
among the rich and learned, but also among the poor and 
ignorant people of the town. For the first time, religion 
now taught that rich and poor, master and slave, are equal 
in the eyes of God, so the poor and unhappy welcomed it 
as gladly as their more fortunate fellow-citizens. 



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ROMANS AND GAULS 37 

As the Romans generally did not care what religion the 
people practiced, so long as they obeyed the' laws, they did 
not trouble the Christians in Gaul, until a converted soldier 
once refused to join in pagan rites in their temple. This re- 
fusal made the Romans inquire into the new belief, and 
what they learned made them so angry that they wished to 
end it at once. The Emperor, therefore, ordered his people, 
to worship none but the old Roman gods in future. 

The Christians could not obey this order; so about 
thirty years after the first church was founded in Lyons, 
the first persecution was begun there. Christians were 
beaten and tortured in many horrible ways. Some were 
beheaded, others stoned to death, and many were ex- 
posed in the arena, to be torn limb from limb and eaten 
by wild beasts, while the heathen Gauls and Romans 
applauded. 

Still, in spite of all persecution, the Christians would not 
give up their faith. The founder of the church at Lyons, 
now more than ninety years old, was stoned to death ; but 
he was no truer or more steadfast than the poor little slave 
girl Blandi'na, who, after being horribly tortured in all man- 
ner of ways, was finally torn to pieces by lions and tigers. 
But throughout these tortures, whenever urged to save, 
herself by cursing Christ, she firmly answered: **I am a 
Christian, and no evil is done among us." 

This brave slave girl has been honored by the 
Catholic Church, and has received the title of saint, which 
had never before been bestowed upon any person born in 
GauL Her name therefore stands first upon the roll of. 
French saints and martyrs, and a church still stands on the 
spot where her bones were buried. 



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38 OLD FRANCE 

X THE PATRON SAINT OF FRANCE 

ALTHOUGH widely scattered by persecution, the 
remaining Christians in Gaul proved true to their 
faith. When the persecution was over, some came back to 
Lyons, where they began to preach again, and won many 
converts ; for many people, who had hesitated until then, 
could not help believing in a religion which gave old men 
and delicate girls as much courage, even under torture, as 
any soldier had ever shown on the field of battle. 

A new preacher, I-re-ne'us, bishop of Lyons, was so 
good and holy that even during his lifetime he was called 
a saint, and as he was very learned too, he is known as 
the "Light of the West,*' and is considered one of the 
Fathers of the Church. Ireneus taught until, he perished 
in the second persecution, which took place about twenty- 
five years after the first. 

Another early bishop was St. Denis (sant dSn'Is, or, sSn 
de-nee') who went to Paris, then only a very small city on 
an island in the Seine (sdn). St. Denis preached so suc- 
cessfully here, that when the second persecution began, 
he was head of a thriving church, built on the very spot 
where Notre Dame (no'tr* dam) now stands, and where Jupi- 
ter's temple had once been erected. Three hundred of his 
disciples bravely suffered great tortures with him, and then 
were beheaded on a hill which now forms part of the city, 
and which is still known as the Martyrs' Hill(Montmartre). 
A good woman is said to have buried the holy bishop's 
remains where the church of St. Denis now stands. A 
wonderful legend soon arose about him, to the effect that, 
when his head was struck off, he arose and picked it up 



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ROMANS AND GAULS 39 

and walked some distance away with it ! For this reason 
he is often shown in paintings and sculptures with his sev- 
ered head held in his hands. St. Denis is the patron saint 




Painting by Bonnat. 

The Martyrdom of St. Denis. 

of France, and his name was the watchword for French 
soldiers for many centuries ; so his burial place has always 
been greatly honored,, his bones regarded as sacred relics, 
and his real life and death are often represented in art. 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



40 OLD FRANCE 

although not so frequently as the queer legend which you 
have just heard. 

There were ten awful persecutions in Gaul in about two 
hundred and fifty years. During that time many martyrs 
in different places were persecuted, and if you were to 
hear all they endured, you would see how very brave 
they were, and why so many people hold their names in 
such great honor. 

One of the most noted converts of the fourth century 
was the man since known as St. Martin. It seems that he 
was a handsome and rich young Roman officer, who was 
almost ready to accept the Christian faith, when the follow- 
ing adventure happened to him in Gaul. 

One cold night, on riding home from a feast, wrapped in 
a fine new cavalry cloak, he saw a poor beggar shivering 
with the cold. The young officer, who had a very feeling 
heart, quickly drew his sword, and cutting his big cape in 
two, gave half of it to the beggar to keep him warm. 
That night, in a dream, Martin saw Jesus wearing the half 
cloak he had given the beggar, and heard him tell the 
angels that his servant Martin, although not baptized, had 
nevertheless obeyed his command to clothe the naked. 

When Martin awoke, he asked to be baptized ; soon after, 
he left the army, and entering the Church, became bishop 
of Tours (toor). He preached to such good purpose that 
there were soon no heathen left in Gaul, and he and his 
disciples destroyed all the old pagan temples and altars 
left thene. 

The place where St. Martin was buried became holy, 
and for many years no criminal could be touched as long 
as he was within the sacred inclosure at Tours. Unlike 



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THK FRANKS 41 

St. Denis, St. Martin died a natural death, for Christian 
persecutions came to an end when one of the Roman 
Emperors became a Christian (312).^ 



XI. HOW THE FRANKS CAME INTO GAUL 

THE Romans ruled over Gaul nearly five hundred 
years. During the first two centuries the people 
improved, and the country prospered greatly, for the Ro- 
mans thought of their good and worked hard to secure it. 
But the bad example set by many Emperors, and by the 
rich men at Rome, was in time followed by most of their 
countrymen, who becan^e lazy and selfish. 

As they needed more and more money and slaves, they 
laid always heavier taxes upon the Gauls, who had been, 
happy and industrious as long as they were fairly treated, 
but who now became poor and sullen, and were finally so 
discouraged that many of them ceased to work. Peasants, 
who had lost all ambition, forsook their fields and wandered 
aimlessly around, stealing whenever they were hungry, and 
hating any and every one who was better off than they. 

A mob of such angry peasants began a revolt in 
the fourth century, and although these people were soon 
brought to order, other revolts like this frequently took 
place in Gaul during the next three hundred years. Or- 
derly people suffered much from such violence as well as 
from the inroads of the barbarians, who often crossed the 
Rhine when the Roman army began to weaken. 

In fact, the state of affairs in Gaul was so unsatisfactory 

^ Story of the Romans, pp. 268, 269. 

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42 OLD FRANCE 

that Julian was sent there by the Emperor in 355 a.d. to 
restore order. After putting down a peasant revolt, he 
spent one winter in Paris, where he built a palace for him- 
self, the ruins of which can still be seen there in a park. 
Next, Julian defeated seven barbarian chiefs near Strass'- 
burg. There, he first met the Franks, a tribe of brave 
German warriors who had already often crossed the Rhine 
to raid northern Gaul, and from whom, later, were to come 
the names France and French. Julian made friends with 
this tribe, took some of its warriors into his own army, 
and allowed the rest to settle between the Rhine and the 
Meuse, on condition that they should not permit any other 
German nations to cross the river. 

Julian had scarcely finished this arrangement when he 
was made Emperor in his turn. Not long after his death, 
the vast Roman Empire was divided into two parts, and 
governed by Emperors of the East and of the West. 
During this time, while the Romans were growing weaker 
and weaker, the Franks kept growing stronger and stronger, 
until they became so daring that one of them actually 
killed a Roman Emperor in 392 a.d. and set up another 
in his place. 

These Franks were heathen ; their name meant " bold, 
fearless, open " ; but they were so grasping that the Gauls 
used to say, ** Take a Frank for a friend, but never for a 
neighbor ! " Very little is known about their origin, ex- 
cept that they belonged to the German branch of the great 
human family. Later on, however, when people learned 
to read the old Greek and Latin poems, and everybody 
talked about the siege of Troy, a story was invented as 
follows: One of the Trojan heroes. Hector, had a son 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



THE FRANKS 43 

named Ffancus, who escaped from the burning city and 
lived to become the father of a family, the Franks, which 
in time formed a great nation. 

At the yearly meeting, which was called the Field of 
March or May, the Franks elected a chief, whom they 
then raised upon a shield, and carried several times around 
the assembly on their shoulders. They also made laws for 
all the people of the tribe. 

Some Frankish laws provided that if one man killed an- 
other, on purpose or by accident, he should atone for it by 
paying a fine. The amount depended on the rank of the 
person slain ; while a large fine was paid for killing a chief, 
a slave's life was held to be worth even less than that of 
a horse or a cow ! Any Frank accused of crime could be 
called before the assembly. If a certain number of per- 
sons did not appear to swear to his innocence, he was 
obliged to submit to a test, or ordeal, to decide whether 
he was guilty or not. 

There were different kinds of ordeals. The accused 
was sometimes bound hand and foot and cast into the 
water. If he floated, he was considered guilty, and pun- 
ished ; but if he sank, he was held to be innocent. Often 
this did not do him much good, for by the time the judges 
were quite sure he would not float, and pulled him out of 
the water, he might be dead! Sometimes the accused 
was forced to dip his hand into boiling water or oil. If 
his burns healed quickly, he was acquitted; but if his 
recovery proved slow, he was punished as guilty. Some 
of the accused were compelled to walk blindfold over red- 
hot plowshares placed at short intervals along the ground. 
If they managed to avoid touching these, they were allowed 



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44 OLD FRANCE 

to go free ; but if they were burned, they were declared 
guilty. 

The Franks were great warriors, and loved fighting, but 
even they were frightened when they heard that two hun- 
dred thousand barbarians, the Van'dals and Burgun'dians, 
were nearing the Rhine (406). They made a desperate 
effort to check the advance of these foes, and killed some 
twenty thousand, but the rest managed to cross the Rhine 
on the ice, swept over a great part of the country, and 
destroyed so much that their name became a by-word ; we 
still speak of reckless destruction as an act of "vandalism." 

Many of these barbarians passed over into Spain, but 
the Burgundians settled in eastern Gaul. These people 
became very skillful manufacturers of all sorts of tools, 
ornaments, and playthings, for they were born carpenters 
and wood carvers, and their descendants still excel in this 
kind of work. 

Meantime, another great host of fierce barbarians, the 
Vis'igoths, took possession of northern Spain and south- 
western Gaul. They quickly adopted Roman ways, and 
their realm in Gaul, stretching from the Pyrenees to the 
river Loire (Iwar), bore the old Roman name of Aquita'nia. 
Their capital was Toulouse (too-looz'), where their king 
settled down with his newly won bride, a sister of the 
Roman Emperor. 

XII. THE FIRST KINGS 

THE Franks, who had not been able to prevent the 
arrival of the Burgundians or Visigoths in Gaul, now 
thought it high time to secure a larger slice of the country 



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THE FRANKS 45 

for themselves, and therefore began to rob the Gauls and 
Romans. The result was nearly twenty years of warfare, 
during which the chiefs of the Sa'lian Franks (Western 
Franks) greatly extended their territory. But all fighting 
among the different nations in Gaul came to a stop when 
they heard that an immense army of the terrible Huns 
was coming. 

These barbarians were even worse than the Vandals; 
so thorough was their destruction, that land which they had 
conquered often lay waste for years. The Huns were of 
the yellow or Mongolian race, and were as ugly as they 
were fierce and cruel. They had small eyes, flat noses, 
big ears, and bushy hair. They traveled on horseback, 
and lived on mares* milk and on horse meat, which they 
carried between steed and saddle, to make it tender before 
devouring it raw. Their fierce king, At'tila, was known as 
the " Scourge of God," and boasted that "Grass ceases to 
grow where the horse of Attila has trod." 
• The Gauls fled before him. Twenty of their towns lay 
in ruins, and the Parisians were about to desert their city 
also, when a young shepherd girl, Gen-e-vieve', spoke to 
them, saying : " Forsake not your homes, for God has 
heard my prayers. Attila shall retreat." The Parisians, 
knowing how holy Genevieve was, believed her words, and 
remained quietly in their homes. To their great relief, 
Attila, instead of attacking Paris, suddenly changed his 
plans and went on to Or'leans. This city was saved from 
ruin by the bravery of its bishop, who kept up the people's 
courage and made them resist Attila, until the combined 
armies of the Romans, Gauls, Franks, Visigoths, and 
Burgundians could meet the mighty Huns. 



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THK FRANKS 47 

Attila, hearing that they were coming, forsook the siege 
of Orleans, and went to the plain of Chdlons (sha-ldN'), 
where was fought one of the great battles of the world 
(451). One hundred and sixty thousand men were slain 
there, and such was their hatred that it was said their 
spirits continued to fight in the air for the next three days! 
When the battle was over, the Huns were so sorely beaten 
that Attila was glad to retreat. 

The chief of the Salian Franks at Chdlons was Mero- 
ve'us, and the victory added greatly to his renown. He is 
considered the founder of the Merovin'gian line, or dynasty, 
of Prankish kings in Gaul. 

His son, Chil'deric, was so disliked that he had to leave 
the country and spend eight years in exile beyond the 
Rhine. But he finally came back with a German wife, who 
on her wedding night, it is said, foretold in an allegory that 
the first Merovingians would be brave, but that their suc- 
cessors would be cruel, revengeful, mean, sly, and cowardly, 
each member of the royal family sinking lower, until the 
last would be driven away by the smallest among his sub- 
jects.^ You will see that this " prophecy " — which of course 
was made long after, and not before, the events — came true 
as you go on reading this story. 

After ruling the Franks for some time, Childeric died 
and was buried in state in northern Gaul. Nearly twelve 
hundred years after, his tomb was opened, and besides 
ashes and bits of bone, there was found within it a 
ring bearing the portrait of a long-haired man, a stylus, a 
crystal globe, an ax-head, and some remains of a red silk 
cloak, to which still clung many little ornaments in the 

1 See Guprber*s Legends of the Rhine , pp. 147-148. 

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4S OLD FRANCK 

shape of golden bees. These treasures are now carefully 
preserved in a French museum, and when France became 
an Empire, Napoleon adopted the golden bees of the 
Merovingian king as one of the emblems of the new dynasty 
which he founded. 

When Childeric died, the Salian Franks raised Clo'vis, 
his fifteen-year-old son, on a shield, thus making him their 
leader. They owned as yet only a very small part of 
northern Gaul. Their rivals were Romans and Gauls in 
the north of the country, Bret'ons (Celts) in the west, Visi- 
goths in the south, and Burgundians in the east. Still, 
Clovis was very ambitious, and though young, was eager 
to win land and wealth. 

He began by attacking and defeating the Romans at 
Soissons (swa-s6N'), 486. Then his men scattered and 
roamed about in search of spoil. As they were not Chris- 
tians, they plundered churches, and among other things 
they took a golden vase from a church at Rheims (remz, 
or raNss). But St. R^mi (ra-mee'), the bishop of Rheims, 
happened to be a friend of Clovis, and asked that the vase 
might be returned. When the booty was collected at 
Soissons, ready to be divided among the warriors, Clovis 
therefore asked that the vase might be given to him over 
and above his share. All the soldiers were willing save 
one, who angrily broke the vase with his battle-ax, saying, 
" No ; you shall have no more than is yours by lot ! '* 

A Frankish chief had no right to more than his share of 
the booty, so Clovis dared not punish the man then and 
there, but he was not of a forgiving nature. Noticing, 
one day, that there was something wrong with this man's 
arms, Clovis snatched them from him and flung them down 



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CLOVIS (481-51 1) 49 

on the ground. Then, when the man stooped to pick 
them up, Clovis suddenly cleft his skull with his battle-ax, 
crying, ** Remember the vase of Soissons ! " 



XIII. CONVERSION AND CONQUESTS 
OF CLOVIS 

THE victory at Soissons made Clovis master of a large 
part of northern Gaul. An early attempt against 
Paris, however, was not successful. It is said that Gene- 
vieve relieved the starving inhabitants by sending them 
boatloads of provisions, and that she pleaded with Clovis, 
who more than once, at her request, set prisoners free. 
Because she saved the city from the Huns and from 
famine, Genevieve is regarded as its patron saint, and in 
a church in Paris (the Pantheon) there are many pictures 
representing the good deeds done by this brave little shep- 
herd girl, from the time when she first received the bishop's 
blessing and became a Christian, until she died in Paris, at 
more than fourscore years and ten, after having spent all 
her life in good deeds and prayer. 

By this time Clovis was anxious to marry. Hearing of 
Clotil'da, — a niece of the king of Burgundy, who, accord- 
ing to the legend, had murdered her parents, — he sent a 
messenger to her. Clotilda gladly consented to become 
Clovis*s wife, and as her uncle dared not refuse to let her go, 
they were soon married at Soissons, the Prankish capital. 

Clotilda was a Catholic ; so she and the priests wished to 
have Clovis become one, too. . This he refused to do, al- 
though he allowed his first son to be baptized to please 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



so 



OLD FRANCE 



his wife. But when the babe sickened and died a few days 
after the ceremony, he felt very sure that his gods were 
angry with him. When Clotilda therefore begged that 
her second child might receive baptism also, Clovis con- 
sented with great reluctance, and when this boy too fell 
dangerously ill, he bitterly exclaimed that it would surely 
die like the ^rst ! But Clotilda assured him that his 
gods had no power whatever over their children, and 
that her God would yet grant her prayers and let the boy 
live. As the child did live, Clovis's faith in his heathen 
deities was shaken, and he even began to think that, after 
all, his wife's God might be more powerful than they. 

Ten years after the famous battle of Soissons, some 
Germans crossed the Rhine, and Clovis went forth with 
all his army to meet them at Tolbi'ac (496). During the 
fierce battle, Clovis called on his fathers* gods for help, 
without avail. Then suddenly he cried aloud: "Christ 
Jesus, in whom Clotilda believes, I have called upon my 
gods in vain. Help Thou me ! " And he vowed that if 
he won the day, he would become a Christian, as his wife 
wished. Legend asserts that as soon as Clovis had made 
this vow, the skies opened, and angels flew down to help 
him drive away the Germans. We know th^t Clovis won 
so great a victory that day that no savage German tribes 
ever tried to come and settle in France after that. 

On his return from the battle of Tolbiac, Clovis listened 
for the first time to the story of Christ. When the priest 
(St. R^mi) described how He had been crucified, Clovis 
grew very angry, clenched his fists, and loudly cried, "Ah, 
if I had only been there with my Franks, I would have 
taught those Jews a lesson ! " 



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CLOVIS (481-5 1 1) 



51 



It had been decided that Clovis should be baptized in 
the church at Rheims, on Christmas Day, and the priests, 
in their joy at securing such an important convert, decked 
the church and city with such magnificence that Clovis 
stared about him in wonder, and asked, " Is this the 
heaven which you have promised me ? " 

" No,** answered the priest, " it is not heaven, but the 
road that leads to it** 




Painting by Blanc. 



Victorious Return of Clovis. 



Clovis was then led to the font, where St. R^mi said, 
" Bend your head, O chief. Worship what you have hith- 
erto burned, and burn what you have worshiped.** There 
is a legend that just then a dove flew down from heaven, 
bringing to St. R^mi the vial of holy oil which was used 
to anoint Clovis and all the kings of France who came 
after him. This vial (ampulla) of holy oil was carefully 
treasured in Rheims until the Revolution (1794), when it 

uigiTizea oy ^^nviOQlC 



52 OLD FRANCE 

was broken to pieces, but even then the priests man- 
aged to save a few drops of the sacred oil for future use. 

Clovis's two sisters and three thousand of his warriors 
were baptized with him that day in the church of Rheims, 
and because Clovis was the first king anointed by Roman 
Catholic priests, he was called the " Eldest Son of the 
Church,** a title which was borne by all his successors 
on the throne of France. 

Although a Christian in name, Clovis was very much 
the same old pagan, for when once asked how long he 
wished the new church to be, which he had ordered built 
in Paris, he hurled his battle-ax as far as he could, and 
said that the distance between his weapon and the hand 
which threw it should be the length of the building. 
This famous edifice soon received the bones of St. Gene- 
vieve, and Clovis, his wife, and descendants were laid to 
rest there in their turn. Although the original building 
is now nearly all gone, some traces of it can still be seen. 

After his baptism, so the story runs, Clovis said it was high 
time to avenge Clotilda's wrongs ; so he made war against 
the Burgundians, whom he defeated and compelled to pay 
tribute. He then went on to make war against the Visi- 
goths, partly because they were oppressing the Gallo- 
Roman Catholics. 

It is said that on his way southward, as he drew near a 
church, he heard the priests chant, ** Thou hast also given 
me the necks of mine enemies ; that I might destroy them 
that hate me." This, he declared, was a sure sign that 
he would win a great victory. Going on, he was careful 
to pay his respects to the shrine of St. Martin at Tours, 
and was rewarded for his devotion by being guided at 



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CLOVIS (481-511) 53 

night by a mysterious light which shone from the church 
tower, and by seeing a doe cross a river with her young, 
just when he was Vainly looking for .a ford for his army. 

Clovis met the Visigoths near Poitiers (pwa-tya'), in 507, 
and there slew their king and won a glorious victory. He 
then marched on to their capital, Toulouse, and from 
thence his army went to attack Provence. There, for the 
first and only time in his life, Clovis's soldiers were de- 
feated ; so he gave up all hope of taking Provence, and 
returned to Tours, where he was greatly pleased to receive 
messengers from the Emperor of the East. 

The last Emperor of the West had been deposed in 
476, and the Eastern Emperor had thus become the highest 
ruler of all civilized Europe, though he had little real 
power in the West. He now sent Clovis a purple cloak 
and appointed him Consul. This title, of which Clovis 
was very proud, helped him to keep the allegiance of the 
Gallo-Roman population. He was now master of the 
greater part of Gaul, and he rounded out his dominions 
on the north by killing several of his relatives, chiefs of 
other Prankish tribes, and getting himself elected king in 
their stead. 

Clovis made Paris the capital of his great realm. There 
he died and was buried in 511, after a reign of thirty years. 



XIV. CLOTAIRE AND HIS RELATIVES 

CLOVIS left his vast dominions to his four sons, who 
became kings of Metz, Orleans, Soissons, and Paris. 
Besides these estates north of the river Loire, each of 
o. F. — 4 

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54 OLD FRANCE 

these four rulers also owned several rich cities in the newly 
conquered province of Aquitania, whence they drew fine 
incomes. But Burgundy no longer paid tribute. 

Clovis's sons were all cruel and grasping, like their 
father, so each strove to increase his own kingdom and 
wealth at the expense of his neighbors and brothers. One 
of the greatest wars they undertook was waged against 
Burgundy — the land of the upper Rhone valley. 

Clo'domir, king of Orleans, took the lead in this war, 
captured one Burgundian king, and cast him with his 
family into a deep well. Then Clodomir set out in pursuit 
of the other king, but was himself drawn into an ambush and 
slain. His brothers soon afterwards made peace with the 
Burgundians, who again paid tribute, and only ten years 
later (534) became entirely subject to the Franks, after 
forming a separate nation for about one hundred and twenty 
years. 

Clodomir left three young sons ; they were tenderly 
cared for by their grandmother Clotilda, who hoped to see 
them rule one day over their father's estates. But Chil'- 
debert, king of Paris, grew so jealous of these children 
that he summoned his brother Clotaire' to consult with 
him how to rob these nephews of their inheritance. 

The two wicked uncles finally dispatched a messenger to 
Queen Clotilda, asking her to send the children to them, 
so that they might set them upon their father's throne. 
Clotilda, delighted with the prospect of seeing her little grand- 
sons kings, dressed them up in their finest clothes, and 
after giving them a parting feast, joyfully sent them to their 
uncles. But the three little boys — the eldest was only 
ten years of age — had no sooner reached their uncle's 



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SONS OF CLOVIS (511-561) 55 

palace, than they were torn from their attendants and 
locked up to await their doom. 

Clotilda was indulging in happy daydreams about her 
grandchildren, when a warrior suddenly appeared before 
her, carrying a naked sword in one hand, and a pair of 
scissors in the other. He roughly said: "Thy sons, our 
lords, great and glorious queen, are waiting until thou 
sendest them word how thy grandsons shall be treated. 
Order them to live with shorn heads, or to. be put to 
death." 

The Prankish kings and princes were proud of their 
long hair, and to cut it off meant that they were unfit to 
reign and had to become monks. Knowing this, the queen 
cried out in her grief, ** Oh ! if they are not to be raised 
to the throne, I would rather see them dead than disgraced ! " 

The messenger hastened back to tell the kings. Both 
uncles then went into the room where two of the princes 
were imprisoned, and Clotaire, roughly seizing them one 
after another, put them to death with his own hands ! But 
when the uncles sought their third nephew, to kill him also, 
they discovered that one of his attendants had helped him 
to escape through a narrow window, and had borne him 
away to a place of safety. 

For fear lest the wicked uncles should murder him too, 
this child (Clodoald) was taken to Italy, where he was 
brought up secretly in a monastery. But when he had 
grown up, he expressed a wish to become a monk, and 
cut off his long hair with his own hand. He died in a 
monastery near Paris, which from him received the name 
of (St. Clodoald, or) St. Cloud (sSn cloo'). A small town 
grew up where this old monastery once stood; and the 

uigitizea oy vjiOOQlC 



S6 OLD FRANCE 

beautiful park near it was for many years the favorite re- 
sort of several of the kings and queens whose history you 
are about to hear, but is now only a playground for many 
happy French children. 

The wicked uncles divided their nephews' estates, and 
four years later Clotaire set out with his elder brother The- 
od'eric to conquer part of Germany. During this expedi- 
tion, Theoderic once invited Clotaire to his room, intending 
to have him killed ; but Clotaire happened to see thefeet of 
the murderers sticking out from under the curtain behind 
which they were hiding, and therefore, instead of laying 
aside his weapons, he called his guards. Theoderic then 
pretended that he had called his brother in only to make him 
a present of a fine silver dish. Clotaire haughtily accepted 
the gift and bore it off, but Theoderic, regretting its loss, 
soon sent his son to ask that it might be returned to him ! 

The sons of Clovis also waged war against the Visigoths, 
from whom they won Provence. By 540 they had become 
so powerful, that the Emperor Justin'ian ceded to them 
all the Roman rights in Gaul, and allowed them hence- 
forth to coin money, whereon their own heads replaced 
those of the Roman Emperors. 

The lands of Theoderic descended to his son and grand- 
son, and then fell into the hands of Clotaire, who also in- 
herited Childebert*s lands in 558, and thus became sole 
king over more land than was owned by Clovis. 

Clotaire was as grasping and selfish as he was cruel, 
so he now fancied that he would be happy, for he had no 
rivals left. Still, before settling down, he wished to punish 
one of his sons, who had revolted a short time before, and 
therefore pursued him with an army. Clotaire overtook the 



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CLOTAIRE (558-561) 57 

fugitive prince in Brittany, just as he was about 10 sail for 
England, and ordered his men to tie the unhappy man, 
his wife, and several small children, to the beams of a 
cottage, which was then set on fire. 

This is the last of Clotaire*s crimes recorded in history, 
for we are told that he lived only one year after committing 
this awful deed. During that time he was continually 
haunted by the memory of the son whom he had slain. 
Night and day he seemed to see the flames and to hear 
the cries of his victims. On his death bed he exclaimed, 
" Oh ! how great must be the King of Heaven, if he can 
thus kill so mighty a monarch as I ! " , 

The Prankish kingdom, after being divided for forty-eight 
years, had been under the rule of a single king for three. 
It was now divided again among four princes, Clotaire'-s 
sons, but as one of them died six years later (567), the whole 
country was then formed into the three famous kingdoms 
of Austra'sia, or Northeastern France, Neus'tria, or West- 
ern France, and Burgundy.^ 



XV. TWO RIVAL QUEENS 

YOU have heard the story of the reigns of the first 
Merovingian kings in some detail, and therefore have 
a fair idea of the times in which they lived, and of the way 
in which these early rulers behaved. But it would be 
weary work to read as minute a history of all the kings of 
this race, whose names and dates you can find at the end 
of this book if you care to look them up. 

^ These names may be seen on the map on p. 69. 

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58 



OLD FRANCE 




Only a few interesting events happened in France during 
the next two centuries, by the end of which the Merovin- 
gians had ceased forever to occupy the throne. During 

that time the first kings were 
brave, and their successors 
were in turn cruel, revenge- 
ful, sly, and cowardly, each 
ruler sinking a little lower 
than the one who came 
before him. 

Not many years after the 
death of Clotaire I., a deadly 
rivalry arose between his 
sons' wives, Brunhil'da and 
Fredegon'da. The former 
was a handsome, strong- 
minded Visigoth princess, 
who married Sig'ebert, king of Austrasia, shortly before 
her gentle sister was given as wife to his brother Chil'peric, 
king of Neustria. The Neustrian monarch, however, soon 
grew tired of his meek wife, and she was strangled in her 
sleep by his order, so that he could marry her handmaiden, 
Fredegonda, one of the most wicked as well as fnost 
beautiful women in history. 

In those days, some people who called themselves Chris- 
tians yet believed it a sacred duty to avenge every injury 
received. Brunhilda no sooner heard of her sister's death 
than she urged her husband to attack his brother. 

After a few years of warfare, Sigebert managed to gain 
possession of Paris, and was elected king of the Neustrian 
Franks. He was about to pursue his deposed brother. 



Brunhilda. 



BRUNHILDA AND FREDEGONDA 59 

when he was stabbed by some murderers bribed by 
Fredegonda. 

Brunhilda's husband being thus slain, she fell into Fre- 
degonda^s hands, and suffered great hardships before she 
managed to get back to Austrasia. There, and later in 
Burgundy also, Brunhilda became regent for her son, her 
grandsons, and her great-grandsons in turn, all of whom 
proved little more than puppets in her hands. 

There is something fine and strong about Brunhilda. 
She was a wise woman, and made many improvements in the 
country, where an ancient road still bears her name ; but 
her desire to avenge her sister^s death and to harm Frede- 
gonda kept her people in a constant state of warfare and 
turmoil. 

Each year the hatred between the two queens became 
more bitter, and when Fredegonda, after murdering her 
stepsons and husband, became regent of Neustria for her 
infant son, the feud was worse than ever. During those 
years, when neither queen stopped at anything, Fredegonda 
generally managed to get the better of the quarrel. And 
when, after a long time, she found that she would die before 
she had wreaked all her hatred upon Brunhilda, she charged 
her son, Clotaire II., to carry out her wicked plans. 

This king, having by treachery finally secured Brunhilda 
and her four great-grandsons, had two of these princes 
slain on the spot, shut the other two up in monasteries 
after shearing off their royal locks, and then proceeded to 
torture poor Brunhilda. 

Although an old woman by this time, Brunhilda, the 
daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grand- 
mother of kings, was by his order mounted upon a camel, 



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6o OLD FRANCE 

— like the meanest of criminals — and led through the 
camp, where the soldiers were encouraged to pelt her with 
mud, and to insult her in every possible way. After three 
days of torture and shameful treatment, she was finally 
tied, hair, hand, and foot, to the tail of a wild horse, which 
dashed through briers and over stones, until she was torn 
to pieces ! ^ 

XVI. GOOD KING DAGOBERT AND HIS 
SUCCESSORS 

BY the murder and robbery of his young kinsmen, 
Clotaire II. became master of all three kingdoms, 
and therefore, like his namesake, sole king of France. He 
is noted in history not only for his cruelty to Brunhilda, 
but also because he was forced to make a new law, whereby 
the nobles were henceforth allowed to leave their lands 
and titles to their children. Before that, when a nobleman 
had died, his lands had always been given back to the 
king. At this time, also, there was chosen in each of the 
three kingdoms a chief officer, called Mayor of the Palace, 
to govern under the king. 

While Clotaire was noted for his hardness of heart, his 
son Dag'obert is so famous for his good nature and jollity 
that no one in France ever mentions him except as " the 
good king Dagobert." At his father's death (628), he too 
found himself sole king of France, and during his reign he 
received, besides, tribute from many tribes in Germany. 
He made many wise laws, listened to the complaints of 
the poor as patiently as to those of the rich, and dealt out 
justice to all alike. 

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DAGOBERT (628-638) 



61 



Many of Dagobert*s wise deeds are said to have been 
due to the good advice given by his treasurer (Eloi), a 
man of such fine princ^iples that he was called "saint" 
even during his life- 
time. This treasurer 
was also a very clever 
goldsmith, and made 
for the king a golden 
throne, and a crown 
and scepter, long 
carefully preserved 
in the treasury of the 
Church of St. Denis, 
near Paris. 

This church — a 
wonder of architec- 
ture — stands on the 
very spot where St. 
Denis is said to have 
been buried. The 
story runs that a poor 
little chapel, built 
over the saint's 
grave, had fallen into 
ruins and was quite forsaken. One day, while pursuing a 
deer, Dagobert saw it plunge into a thicket, and soon found 
that it had taken refuge in this tumble-down place. The 
tender-hearted king not only spared the poor deer's life, but 
vowed to build a church and abbey there. For this reason 
he is considered the founder of the abbey of St. Denis, al- 
though very little of the building he erected there still exists, 

uigitizea oy vjiOOQlC 




The Present Church of St. Denis. 



62 OLD FRANCE 

The church finished, we are told that Dagobert laid 
upon the altar a quaint banner of crimson and gold, cut in 
the shape of a flame, which is known as the " Or'iflamme." 
This was the sacred royal banner of France. For centuries 
no French king ever went to war without first visiting the 
Church of St. Denis, where the abbot gave him this stand- 
ard, which was kept on the altar in times of peace. The 
Oriflamme was always carried before the king in battle, 
and it waved from his tent in camp, while the royal war cry 
of "Montjoie et St. Denis" (m6N-zhwa' a saN de-nee') was 
heard in every fray where it was carried. 

Dagobert felt such an interest in the church he had 
founded, that he begged to be buried in it. His tomb 
in the Church of St. Denis — which was several times re- 
constructed in later centuries — can still be seen, with quaint 
sculptures all around it, showing how saints and demons 
are said to have fought for the king^s soul, which, we are 
happy to say, was finally carried off in triumph to heaven. 
From the time of Dagobert's burial in this church (638) 
until the end of the eighteenth century, French monarchs 
were always laid to rest in this edifice, which contains so 
many beautiful and interesting tombs that thousands of 
strangers — as well as countless patriotic Frenchmen — 
go to visit it every year. 

Dagobeirt is considered the best and wisest of all the 
Merovingian kings, and his memory is still kept green in 
France by an old nursery rhyme, which is as familiar to 
children there as the Mother Goose ditties are to you. 
As most of his successors were weak, idle, and stupid, 
they are known as the Sluggard, or Do-nothing, Kings. 
They ate, drank, and were merry ; rode about in royal style, 



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MAYORS OF THE PALACE 63 

lolling lazily in great wagons drawn by slow-pacing oxen ; 
and troubled themselves about nothing in the world save 
their own pleasure. As a rule they died very young, the 
result of too much eatihg and drinking, and not enough 
exercise ; but none of them were ever missed. 

These slothful kings were mere figureheads. The real 
power in the kingdom had fallen into the hands of their 
principal officers, the mayors of the palace, who ruled 
Neustria, Austrasia, and Burgundy about as they pleased. 
But as these mayors of the palace were often jealous of 
one another, and anxious to govern all France alone, their 
rivalry led to many bitter quarrels and even to open war- 
fare. 

Finally a famous Austrasian mayor of the palace, named 
Pep'in (of H^ristal), defeated the Neustrians in a great 
battle (Testry, 687), and thus became sole master of all 
northern France. It suited him, however, to keep puppet- 
kings on the throne, whom he crowned or deposed just as 
his fancy prompted. 

For many years after this, mayors of the palace made 
and unmade kings, getting rid of those who were inconven- 
ient by means of poison or of the dagger, or by cutting off 
their long hair and shutting them up in monasteries. 



XVII. THE SARACENS CHECKED 

WHEN Pepin died, his son Charles cleverly escaped 
from the prison in which his stepmother was 
vainly trying to keep him so that her son might be mayor 
of the palace in his stead. Charles then placed hims**'^ 

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64 OLD FRANCE 

at the head of an army, conquered the rebellious German 
tribes, and had barely put state affairs in some order when 
he heard that a new danger was threatening France. This 
was the coming of the Sar'acens, an Eastern nation, who 
wished to force every one to give up the Christian religion 
and to adopt that taught by their prophet, Mohammed. 

Instead of merely preaching to people, and thus trying 
to persuade them to do as they wished, the Saracens 
set out from Arabia to convert the world, sword in hand. 
As they were very brave, they soon conquered all the 
northern part of Africa ; then, crossing the Strait of Gibral- 
tar, they swept all over Spain, and even ravaged Provence, 
robbing houses and churches, and killing and burning 
wherever they went. 

Now they had sworn to conquer all France, and had 
begun by defeating the Duke of Aquitania. The Church 
of St. Martin at Tours (toor) being one of the oldest and 
richest in the country, Charles felt sure that the Saracens 
would soon come to sack that. He therefore crossed the 
Loire River with a large army, determined to check their 
advance and protect the shrine. 

The two forces met between the cities of Tours and 
Poitiers, so the battle fought there (732) is sometimes 
called by one name and sometimes by the other. Both 
armies were so large and so strong, it is said, that they 
stood opposite each other seven days before daring to 
begin the famous battle which was to decide the fate of 
France and of all Europe. 

Throughout this encounter, Charles fought with such 
courage, and struck such mighty blows, that he earned the 
nickname of " Martel'," or " The Hammer." We are even 

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CHARLES MARTEL 65 

told that Charles Martel killed the king of the Saracens 
with his own hand aud that his example inspired his men 
to wonderful deeds of valor. 

At dark, both armies retreated into their camps to rest, 
fully expecting to renew the struggle on the morrow. 
But when the Saracens found out how many thousands of 
men they had already lost, they decided to slip away 
quietly during the night, leaving their booty behind them 
and taking with them nothing but their arms and horses. 

When morning dawned, Charles and his men waited in 
vain for the enemy to come out of their tents and renew 
the fight. Finally the Franks advanced with great care, 
for they feared a .trick on the part of the Saracens. But 
they were amazed to find the camp empty, with untold 
treasures scattered all over the ground, and it is said 
that they collected in a few minutes more wealth than they 
could carry away ! 

The Saracens were so discouraged by this terrible de- 
feat that they gave up all hope of conquering France. 



XVIII. THE END OF THE MEROVINGIANS 

CHARLES MARTEL, having conquered such dreaded 
enemies as the Saracens, was the most powerful 
man in the country, and he exercised the royal power un- 
hindered until his death in 741. He made kings at will, 
but the Merovingian princes were so weak and useless that 
for five years he actually left the throne vacant and ruled 
alone. When he died, the realm was divided between his 
two sons; but they were allies, and before long one of 

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66 OLD FRANCE 

them entered a monastery to do penance for his sins, leav- 
ing the other — whose name was Pepin, like his famous 
grandfather — to rule alone. This Pepin, son of Charles 
the Hammer, was so small of stature that he is known in 
history as Pepin the Short {le Bref\ but he was neverthe- 
less very strong, brave, and ambitious. It seemed to him 
so ridiculous to set one idiotic Merovingian prince after 
another upon the throne that he decided it would be better 
to become king himself. 

In those days, the clergy (priests and monks) were the 
only learned people in the land, and at their head was the 
Pope at Rome. Pepin, therefore, wishing to make sure 
that none of the clergy would oppose him, sent two men 
to the Pope to ask who should be king, the man who wore 
the crown or the man who ruled the people } The Pope 
sent back word, " That it were better that he should be 
king who really exercised the royal power." 

Pepin was sure now of the approval of the priests and 
monks, and he had secured the good will of the nobles 
also by his wise and able government. But we are told 
that the Austrasians — who admired nothing so much as 
strength and courage — were rather inclined to look down 
upon him simply because he was so small. One day, it is 
said, when he and many of his followers were at the 
circus, watching a fierce fight between a lion and a wild 
bull, he suddenly asked who would dare to spring down 
into the pit, and go and rescue the bull, which was getting 
the worst in the fray. None of the warriors present 
stirred, so Pepin boldly jumped down into the arena, drew 
his sword, and with one strong, swift blow struck off the 
head of the raging lion. Then turning to the spectators, 



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PEPIN THE SHORT (752-768) 67 

who were applauding him madly, he exclaimed, " There, 
am I not worthy to be your king ? " 

The people evidently thought he was, for soon after, 
when assembled at Soissons, they raised him on a shield, 
thus proclaiming him king over all the Franks. This was 
in 752. The hair of the last "do-nothing king " was cut 
off, and the rule of the Merovingians ended, after having 
lasted a little more than three centuries. The new royal 
family, descended from the Pepins, was to be known as the 
Carolin'gians (or Carlovin'gians), because its greatest men 
were Charles the Hammer and Charles the Great, and the 
Latin name for Charles is Car'olus. 

Pepin was so anxious that every one should consider 
him a lawful king, that he was actually crowned twice, 
the second ceremony being performed at Rheims, by the 
Pope himself. 

This Pope had come to France to ask Pepin to fight the 
Lom'bards in Italy, with whom he had quarreled. Pepin, 
who had already won many victories over the Saxons, and 
compelled them to pay tribute and to receive the mis- 
sionaries kindly, now led a large army southward. He 
defeated the Lombards and made them give up a tract of 
land in Italy near Raven' na. This land was bestowed 
upon the Holy See, — as the bishopric of Rome is called, — 
so for the next thousand years the Pope was head of a 
state, as well as head of the Church. He is therefore said 
to have had temporal as well as spiritual power. 

Not satisfied with all these triumphs, Pepin next con- 
quered southern France, and before he died his kingdom 
included nearly all the space between the Elbe and the 
Pyrenees, the ocean and the Alps. 



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68 OLD FRANCE 

Pepin was a good ruler as well as a brave general, and 
every year he carefully presided over the assembly, which 
was now held in May. It was different from the old Field 
of March, because the clergy were present as well as the 
warriors, and while the latter still decided all matters of 
war, the former gave the king good advice concerning the 
government of the country. 



XIX. CHARLEMAGNE^S WARS 

IN dying, Pepin divided his kingdom between his two 
sons, who would probably have quarreled very sorely 
had not their mother kept peace between them three 
years, until 771, when only one of them was left. Al- 
though the dead prince had left children, the nobles 
thought it would be best to have one ruler only, so they 
elected Charles to be sole king. 

He is one of the few really great men of the world, and 
as he ruled over a large part of western Europe, he is 
claimed by both the French and the Germans as their 
greatest king. Although a German by birth and language, 
Charles — who was later surnamed the Great (in Latin 
Magnus) — is best known by his French name of Charle- 
magne (shar'le-man), by which we may call him now, to 
avoid confusing him with his famous grandfather, Charles 
the Hammer. 

During his reign, — which lasted forty-three years, — 
Charlemagne waged war on all sides, taking part in fifty- 
three campaigns, more than thirty of which were directed 
against the Saxons and other German tribes. These bar- 



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CHARLEMAGNE (768-814) 



69 



barians, although severely punished by Pepin for harming 
the missionaries, had kept on torturing and killing those 
who tried to convert them, and had burned down their 
schools and churches. To punish them for these and other 
misdeeds Charlemagne often crossed the Rhine with an 




Charlemagne's Empire. 

army, and even built a wooden bridge across this river so 
as to get over it more easily. So much blood was shed in 
these wars that it is often said that Saxon blood dyed the 
soil, which really has a peculiar reddish hue because of 
the minerals in it. 

In the course of these wars, Charlemagne tore down 
the favorite Saxon idol (Irminsul), forced many warriors 

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70 OLD FRANCE 

to receive baptism, carried off many families to live in 
different parts of France, and worked so hard that he 
finally became master of all Germany, which rapidly be- 
came civilized. 

In 773 the Pope asked Charlemagne to come into 
Italy to punish the Lombards, who were again making 
trouble. Charlemagne, therefore, collected a large army 
and, dividing it into two columns, sent one over the St. 
Bernard' Mountain, while he himself led the other over 
Mont Cenis (m6N se-nee'). 

In this way he attacked the Lombards from two sides 
at once, and soon became master of all except two of their 
cities, which made an obstinate resistance, but had to yield 
at last. Having conquered the Lombards, — who had ruled 
northern Italy for about two hundred years, — Charle- 
magne put on the iron crown their kings had worn, and 
declared that he would henceforth rule LomlDardy as well 
as France. 

As Charlemagne was such a mighty warrior, and knew 
how to march great armies from one end of the country to 
the other with unusual speed, he was called to Spain, in 
yy^y to fight the Saracens, his grandfather's old enemies. 
Several later campaigns were directed there also, and 
when they ended, Charlemagne was master of northern 
Spain, from the Pyrenees to the Ebro. 

During one of these campaigns, Charlemagne lost his 
nephew Rowland, and as this young man is the hero of 
many songs and tales, you will like, in the rest of this 
chapter, to hear what is said about him, although very little 
of it is really true. The stories say that Roland was lead- 
ing the rear guard of the army on the homeward march. 



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CHARLEMAGNE (768-814) 71 

and that he had solemnly promised his uncle to call for 
help by blowing his horn, should the enemy dare to attack 
him. As the soldiers were winding their way along one of 
the narrow passes of the mountains, where the rocks rose 
straight up for hundreds of feet, some Saracens, hidden on 
the heights, rolled down great masses of earth and rocks 
and huge tree trunks to crush the men below. 

In vain Roland bared his sword and tried to scale the 
heights ; he could not reach the foe ! The dead lay thick 
around him when he suddenly remembered his promise 
and loudly blew his horn. Then, resuming his efforts, he 
fought the hosts which now poured down on all sides, until 
all his companions were slain. Feeling that his end, too, 
was near, Roland blew a second blast on his horn (" Oli- 
phant *') — a blast so loud and so long that he actually burst 
the veins in his temples ! Then, wishing to save his good 
horse from falling into the hands of the enemy, who might 
illtreat him, Roland bade the faithful beast good-by and 
killed him with his own hand. 

To prevent the foe from seizing his sword ("Durendal"), 
which he knew would soon drop from his lifeless hand, 
Roland tried to break it by striking with all his might at 
the rocks near by. But the strong blade cut right through 
the stone, and Roland had to break it, at last, by bending 
it sharply over his knee. Then, falling back exhausted, 
the hero had barely time to whisper a prayer before he 
passed away, calling to the Archangel St. Michael to 
receive his parting spirit and bear it safely to heaven. 

Meantime, his uncle, twenty miles away, fancied he 
heard the sound of Roland*s horn ; but a traitor, who 
knew what was happening, declared that it was merely the 

uigitizea oy vjiOOQlC 




Painting by Keller. 
(72) 



Death of Roland. 



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CHARLEMAGNE (768-814) 73 

call of a hunter. Still, when Roland blew that last loud 
blast, Charlemagne came hurrying back, only to find his 
nephew and all his men dead, and many of them buried 
beneath masses of fallen stones ! Charlemagne wept bit- 
terly over the death of his beloved Roland, and duly 
avenged him by punishing the Saracens. 

Roland was long considered the best and bravest knight 
of his time, and for more than two hundred years French 
soldiers loved to hear and sing " The Song of Roland." 
In the mountains, people still show a great cleft in the 
rocks, which they say was made by Roland's sword, and 
there is a queer echo which is supposed to be the lingering 
sound of the last blast of this hero's wonderful horn.^ 



XX. CHARLEMAGNE'S MANNER OF LIFE 

ALTHOUGH Charlemagne was a great warrior, and 
fought many battles, he was also very fond of study 
and books. He therefore invited learned men to come and 
live at his court, and got them to teach him and his sub- 
jects all they knew. There were two schools in his palace, 
one for grown people and one for the children, and Charle- 
magne himself is said to have studied diligently. 

Thus he learned to speak Latin and Greek, read many 
old books, collected the poems of his time, and compared 
different copies of the same book so as to see that they 
were quite correct. In those days, you must know, books 

^Guerber's Legends of the Middle Ages^ pp. 129-151; Legends of the Rhine, 
PP- 93-94, 123-127. 

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74 OLD FRANCE 

were not printed as they are now ; each book was simply 
a manuscript — was literally written out by hand. Charle- 
magne was also very fond of music, and during his reign 
the first organ was introduced into France, where, we are 
told, a woman actually died of joy the first time she heard 
it played. Charlemagne liked church singing, made the 
priests use the Gregorian chants, and it is even said that 
he composed a hymn himself, which is still used whenever 
a man is ordained or made a priest. 

Like most men of his time, Charlemagne handled the 
sword with far greater ease than the pen, but he was so 
desirous to learn to write well, that he always kept waxen 
tablets and a stylus under his pillow or in his bosom, so 
that he could practice writing whenever he had a spare 
moment or was too wakeful to sleep. 

Many amusing stories are told of Charlemagne and of 
his studies.^ Once, for instance, when he found fault 
with Al'cuin — the most learned man of his time — for 
making a mistake, this teacher gently said : " The horse, 
which has four legs, often stumbles; how much more 
man, who has but one tongue ! ** 

This same learned man established many schools, which 
Charlemagne visited from time to time to examine the 
pupils. We are told that on such occasions he used to 
place the good scholars at his right hand, and the bad 
ones at his left, telling them that God would judge them 
in the same way on the Last Day, and reward good but 
punish evil. 

Once, when the king noticed that the children of the com- 

"^ Legends of the Rhine, pp. 78, 8i, 87, 88, 90, 93, 123, 194, 244, 247, 263, 
328. Legends of Switzerland, pp. 248, 270. 



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CHARLEMAGNE (768-814) 75 

mon people worked much harder and made far better prog- 
ress than those of the rich, he spoke angrily to the lazy 
ones, saying : " Because you are rich, and are sons of the 
principal men in my kingdom, you think your birth and 
your wealth sufficient for you, and that you stand in no 
need of these studies which would do you so much honor. 
You think only of dress, play, and pleasure ; but I swear 
to you I attach no importance to your riches, or to this 
nobility which brings you so much consideration, and if 
you do not quickly regain by assiduous study the time you 
have lost in frivolities, never, no, never, will you obtain 
anything from Charles ! '* 

Charlemagne was so anxious to make the best of his 
time, that he had some one read aloud to him even while 
he dined. Although a king, he ate nothing but plain, 
wholesome food, and seldom drank anything but water. 
His dress, also, was very simple, and made of strong ma- 
terials which could stand sun and rain, while his courtiers 
often wore silks and satins. 

OnQ day, after they had been trying to persuade him 
to don rich garments also, Charlemagne suddenly rose 
from the table and proposed that they should all go hunt- 
ing without delaying to make any change in their apparel. 
Then he led his courtiers through brush and bogs until 
their fine clothes were all torn and muddy, and did not 
pause when a sudden shower came on, drenching all to 
the skin. 

On reaching home once more, Charlemagne gave orders 
that all should appear at court on the morrow, wearing the 
same clothes ; and many of his elegant courtiers presented 
a very sorry figure on the next day ! Charlemagne, after 

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76 OLD FRANCE 

gazing at them a moment in silence, burst out laughing, 
and cried : " How you do look ! Your fine clothes are all 
ruined. Now just see my garments, they are none the 
worse for the wetting we had ! " It was in this way that 
he proved to them that plain attire is always best for an 
active life. 

Charlemagne was also very fond of bathing, especially 
in the hot springs at Aix-la-Chapelle (sha-pel'), where he 
often invited a hundred of his soldiers to bathe with him, 
astonishing them all by his feats in swimming. Near 
these springs, he finally built his favorite palace, adorned 
with rich marbles brought from Italy, and in the same 
town he erected a beautiful cathedral, where he was 
buried. Another reason for establishing his capital at 
Aix-la-Chapelle was his desire to keep the near-by Saxon 
tribes in order, for every time he was called away to the 
opposite side of his kingdom by war or business, they 
were likely to rise in rebellion. 

To keep track of all that was going on in his vast king- 
dom, and to make sure that all his subjects should .obtain 
justice, Charlemagne divided the country into districts, over 
which certain counts and dukes held sway. Then, too, 
he regularly sent out messengers two by two, to visit every 
part of his kingdom, listen to all complaints, and come 
and report to him all they had seen and heard. Thus, if 
any of his officers proved cruel or unjust, he was sure to 
hear of it sooner or later, and could punish them. 

Besides, every year Charlemagne held two great assem- 
blies out in the open air. Any one who wished to speak 
to him, but was afraid to enter the palace, could then 
approach him freely, and make known his request or 

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CHARLEMAGNE (768-814) 77 

complaint. These assemblies also made his laws, which 
were divided into sixty-five chapters, and called "Cap'- 
itularies.'* 

Charlemagne attended to little things just as carefully as 
he did to more weighty matters, and even examined the 
books of his farmers, making them sell all the eggs he 
could not use, and keep strict account of every penny 
received or expended. He was always industrious, spend- 
ing little time in pleasure, and thinking always of his 
people's Welfare. He not only built a bridge across the 
Rhine, — as we have seen, — but also began a canal which 
was to join the Rhine and Danube, a piece of work which 
was finished only recently. 

He built roads, established markets in various cities, 
made the people use the same measures and weights, and 
encouraged them to be industrious and thrifty. It is also 
said that Charlemagne's foot became the standard of 
length for the whole country, and that the width of his 
thumb — a space just one twelfth the length of his foot 
— was used as an inch. In France, the latter measure is 
therefore still called a thumb {pouce\ and nearly every- 
where people still measure by the foot, although many of 
those who use this measure daily have never heard that it 
is ascribed to this king. 



XXI. CHARLEMAGNE, EMPEROR 

AFTER the wars in Saxony, in Lombardy, and in 
Spain were ended, Charlemagne went over into 
what is now called Austria, to fight the A'vars, from whom 



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78 



OLD FRANCE 



he also won much territory and spoil. Then as he had 
become master of nearly all the land which had once 
formed the Western Empire, it was thought only right 
that he, too, should bear the title of Emperor. 

When he went to Rome, therefore, in 800, he received 
his name of Charles the Great, and on Christmas Day 




Painting by L^vy. 



The Coronation of Charlemagne. 



appeared in church clad in imperial purple. While he 
was kneeling before the altar, the Pope took the imperial 
crown, and placing it upon Charlemagne's head, hailed 
him sixty-eighth Emperor of Rome. 

Thus the Western Roman Empire, which had died out 
324 years before (in 476), sprang to life again under 
Charlemagne ; but from this time on it is generally known 
as the " Holy Roman Empire." During that visit, Charle- 

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CHARLEMAGNE (768-814) 79 

magne also confirmed the grant of land which had been 
made to the Church by his father. 

The last years of Charlemagne's reign were far more 
peaceful than the first ; still, he foresaw that there would 
be trouble as soon as he died. According to one story, 
while he was gazing out at sea, he once suddenly beheld 
some ships of the Northmen — bold northern pirates who, 
sailing along the European coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, 
often landed, stole all they could lay hands upon, and then 
sailed away leaving nothing but ruins behind them. Tears 
coursed down his aged cheeks, and when his followers 
asked the cause of his grief, he sadly answered : " Do you 
know, my faithful liegemen, why I weep ? I do not fear 
that these men can hurt us, but it affronts me to think that 
while I live, they have dared to insult my coasts, and I 
foresee with grief what evil they will do to my descendants 
and to their subjects ! " You will soon see that Charle- 
magne had good cause to weep over the misfortunes 
which were to come, and that his descendants did suffer 
greatly at the hands of these Northmen. 

Charlemagne was married five or six times. He had 
fourteen children whom he loved dearly, but some of them 
died before he did. While his sons were often called away 
to fight or attend to business, his daughters generally ac- 
companied him wherever he went. It was even said that 
he was too fond of them to allow them to marry, for he 
feared their husbands might want to live away from court, 
and thus separate him from them. If you would like to 
know the story of the courtship and marriage of one of 
these daughters, you can read it in Longfellow's charming 
poem, " Emma and Eginhard " (a'gin-hart), in the Ta/es of 

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8o OLD FRANCE 

a Wayside Inn^ where you will also find other interesting 
things about this great monarch. 

Charlemagne was so great, so rich, so brave, and so 
powerful, that his fame spread far beyond Europe, 
even into Asia. The Caliph of Bagdad, as a token of 
respect, sent him ambassadors bringing wonderful pres- 
ents. Many of these Eastern gifts were great curiosities 
to the French and Germans of that day, who make par- 
ticular mention of a monkey, an elephant, an organ, and . 
a mechanical clock ; but all agree that most precious of 
all the gifts were the keys of the Holy Sepulcher at 
Jerusalem. 

Charlemagne was tall and strong, had blue eyes, curly 
hair and beard, and handsome features. While he could 
occasionally dazzle people by the splendor of his imperial 
robes, he generally dressed like a soldier, carrying his 
great sword ("Joyeuse"), which was so very heavy that 
few warriors could handle it at all. 

Charlemagne never believed in doctoring. When he 
fell ill of fever, he refused to eat, and died at the end of 
a week, in January, 814, at the age of seventy-two, hav- 
ing made all his last arrangements with great care and 
calmness. 

At his request, he was buried in the vault of the 
cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle. His body was embalmed, 
clad in imperial purple, seated on a throne, and placed 
in a tomb all paved with gold coins. With a crown on his 
head, scepter in his hand, sword by his side, and an open 
Bible on his knees, the great Emperor sat in state, and the 
vault was closed. Charlemagne had prescribed all this in 
his will, and had besides given strict orders that his tomb 

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CHARLEMAGNE (768-814) 



81 



should never be opened, under penalty of his curse. But 
one of the German Emperors, wishing to secure the regalia 
(crown, scepter, and other royal or imperial ornaments), 
had the tomb opened 
in 997. The body 
of Charlemagne 
was then found just 
as it had been left. 
The ornaments and 
gold were removed, 
the corpse laid in a 
tomb, and the throne 
brought up into the 
gallery of the cathe- 
dral, where it can 
still be- seen. But, 
strange to relate, the 
Emperor who braved 
Charlemagne's curse 
was never lucky 
again. As for the 
regalia, it was taken • 

in time to Vien'na, where it is still exhibited in the imperial 
treasury. 

The hero of countless interesting French and German 
legends, Charlemagne, the most picturesque and powerful 
monarch in Europe for several centuries, was greatly re- 
gretted when he died. We are told that a monk of his 
time wrote : " No one can tell the mourning and sorrow 
that his death caused everywhere ; even pagans wept for 
him as for the father of the world ! " 

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Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle. 



82 OLD FRANCE 

XXII. FEUDALISM 

CHARLEMAGNE had foreseen that the different 
nations over which he ruled were never likely to 
unite so as to form one single people. He followed the 
old Prankish custom, and planned a division of his realm 
among his three sons ; and several years before his death 
he set them up as kings, under himself, in what wetiow call 
France, Italy, and Germany. But two of these princes 
dying before him, the third, Louis, became Charlemagne's 
sole heir. 

Louis was so gentle and devout that he early earned 
the surname of the Meek, or Pious {le D^bonnaire)y and 
had he been allowed to do as he pleased, he would doubt- 
less have entered a monastery and spent all his life there in 
prayer and study. But the peace he so dearly loved was 
not to fall to his lot, for even when very young he was 
compelled to take part in his father*s many wars. 

On coming to the throne at the age of thirty-six, Louis I. 
declared that he meant to have a quiet and orderly court, 
with none of the license or splendor which had distin- 
guished that of Charlemagne. But the nobles, who were 
great fighters, did not appreciate a quiet life, and a court 
where religious services took up the greater part of the 
day soon proved very irksome to pleasure-loving people. 
Besides, the Emperor felt little sympathy for their tastes 
or pursuits, and in his horror for everything pagan, even 
ordered the destruction of all the old Prankish and Saxon 
poetry, which his father had so painstakingly collected. 

Temperate both in meat and drink, the only pastime 
Louis ever permitted was the hunt, so it was no wonder 

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LOUIS I. (814-840) 83 

that his dull court was soon deserted by the nobles, who 
preferred to live in their own way at home. They were 
further encouraged in their disregard of the Emperor's 
wishes by the disobedience of his own sons, who no 
sooner attained manhood than they openly defied him, a 
mode of conduct in which they persisted as long as he 
lived, as you will see. 

Charles Martel and his successors divided much of the 
land in France among a few great warriors who were to 
keep their estates a« long as they lived, and in exchange 
for this gift of land were to maintain men ready to fight 
on horseback for their king whenever called upon to do so. 
These lords were therefore said to do homage to the king 
for their lands, and were called the vassals of their royal 
suzerain, or master. Each of these lords, in turn, bestowed 
farms and villages upon his warriors, also in exchange for 
help in time of war. So these warriors were known as the 
vassals or servants of their suzerain, the lord. These war- 
rior vassals also gave away part of their holdings to lesser 
folk for services of one kind or another. 

In this way, little by little, there was established in 
France a society built on promises, or on faith, and called 
feudalism. In the feudal society the king came first, then 
the great overlords, next the warrior vassals, and then the 
serfs, or farmer and peasant class, who cultivated the soil 
and gave part of their harvests to the fighting men in ex- 
change for their protection. These serfs were almost 
slaves, but they could be sold only with the land they 
tilled. 

The lowest class of all comprised the common or house- 
hold slaves, — mostly prisoners of war, — but as these could 

uigitizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



84 OLD FRANCE 

purchase their freedom, and as it was often given to them 
as reward for some service, this class gradually became 
less and less numerous, until it finally died out entirely 
in France. 

The great warrior lords of France were at first nearly 
all of the conquering Frankish race, while the former in- 
habitants were reduced to the middle or lower classes, 
composed of merchants, artisans, and serfs. 

Now, conquered people always feel somewhat resentful, 
and they are apt to hate their conq-uerors, which is the 
principal reason why the Frankish lords and their subjects 
often failed to agree. But as the lord was made the judge 
and ruler of the people on his land, the lower classes had 
to learn submission, and little by little they ceased to 
struggle or murmur openly. 

To protect themselves from the enemy, or from any 
neighbor who might try to take their new lands away from 
them, these Frankish lords soon built fortresses, where 
not only they and their families, but all their depend- 
ents, could find refuge in time of need. Such fortresses, 
or castles, many of which still exist, were often built on 
mountains or near rivers. To make it impossible for an 
enemy to enter, they were surrounded first by wide moats 
— ditches filled with water — and then by high and very 
thick walls made of great blocks of hewn stone. 

The outer wall generally had but one opening, or gate- 
way, with a tower above it, or turrets on either side. This 
gate was provided with a drawbridge, which could be low- 
ered or raised as the owner of the castle wished. It 
also had a strong iron grating, sliding up and down in 
deep grooves, which was dropped at the least hint of 



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LOUIS I. (814-840) 



85 



danger, and grqat doors heavily studded with iron. Guards 

were posted here and there along the wall and in the 

turrets near the gate, to keep constant watch over the 

surrounding country, 

and to give the alarm 

if any enemy drew 

near. 

Inside the outer 
wall, and built against 
it, were many build- 
ings, opening into the 
castle yard. These 
were the granaries, 
stables, barracks, and 
servant quarters of 
the castle. 

In the center of 
the inclosure, which 
sometimes included 
several rings of walk, 
one inside of another, 
there generally stood 
the donjon, or keep, 
a huge tower which 
was the dwelling of 
the lord and his fam- 
ily, and the place 

where the chief treasures were kept. The ground floor 
of this dwelling was often very dark, because, for safety's 
sake, few openings were made in the lower part of the 
wall, so it was generally used as a guard room. 

o. F. — 6 r^ T 

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Part of Feudal Castle at Vitre. 



86 OLD FRANCE 

In the cellars, or vaults, underneath were the dungeons, 
or prison cells. Captives were often chained to the walls 
of these cold, dark, damp places until they died. 

Over the guard room were the great hall and the living 
rooms of the lord and his family, which were far brighter 
and pleasanter than any of the others within the inclosure. 
Winding stairs, cut in the thick stone walls, led up to the 
bedrooms above, and finally to a terrace on top of the 
tower, whence one could behold all the surrounding coun- 
try, and enjoy in safety sun and air and extended view. 

Such were the homes which the nobles constructed when 
Louis's court grew dull for them. There each lord held a 
little court of his own, until in time one and all longed to 
become their own masters, and ended by flatly refusing to 
obey the king or emperor. 



XXIIL TROUBLESOME SONS 

AS we have seen, Emperor Louis had no desire to reig^, 
so he soon decided to divide his empire into king- 
doms for his three sons,* Lothair', Pepin, and Louis (or 
Ludwig). King Louis had the eastern part, Pepin the 
western, and Lothair the central strip, including Italy. 
Emperor Louis's nephew Bernard, who was already king 
of Italy, soon declared war against his uncle, but was de- 
serted by his army at the last moment, and fell into the 
Emperor's hands. While Louis himself would readily have 
forgiven this nephew, the judges decreed that Bernard 
deserved death for his treachery, and to satisfy them, as 



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LOUIS I. (814-840) 87 

well as his second wife, Judith, Louis consented at last 
that his nephew's eyes should be put out. 

Although Louis had really intended to spare Bernard's 
life, the poor prince died from his injuries. Louis felt such 
deep remorse for his share in this death, that he knew no 
peace until he had done severe public penance for it 
(822). On this occasion the priests scourged the Emperor, 
and showed him to the people, dressed in sackcloth, with 
ashes on his head, as a sign of mourning and great 
humiliation. 

Judith next persuaded Louis to take back some of the 
lands he had granted to his three eldest sons, so as to 
make a fourth share for her boy, Charles. As you 
can readily understand, Louis's three grown-up sons were 
very indignant when asked to give up their lands so that 
their baby step-brother might have a larger kingdom than 
any of theirs. One of these princes, in his anger, even 
joined the rebellious Bretons and a few restive nobles, 
who hated Judith on account of her haughty manners. 
Poor peace loving Louis, thus forced to go to war, was 
soon defeated ; but although his rebel son compelled him 
to lay aside his crown, the two others helped him to regain . 
it, after wringing from him a solemn promise that he would 
never again try to deprive them of their lands. 

In spite of this agreement, Judith soon persuaded Louis 
to call an assembly, which again divided the realm so as 
to allot a large share to Charles. The eldest sons, hear- 
ing of this, now joined forces and marched against their 
father, whose army they met near the Rhine, on a plain 
known as the Red Field, because the soil there was red 
(833). While the two armies were thus face to face, the 

uigitizea oy vjiOOQlC 



88 OLD FRANCE 

priests and most of Louis's soldiers were induced to desert 
him. The poor Emperor was therefore obliged to come 
into his sons* camp, with his wife and youngest child, and 
humbly beg their mercy. Because Louis's sons triumphed 
here by means of treachery, this place has since been 
known as the " Field of Lies." 

These princes deposed the poor Emperor and shut him 
up in a monastery. Within a few years, however, the 
people turned again to their old Emperor, and replaced 
Louis on his throne. All the sorrows and humiliations 
he had undergone could not, however, make him either 
firm or wise ; and the nobles did not scruple to show their 
scorn for a king who forgave every offense so readily, and 
showed so little fighting spirit. 

When Pepin died (in 838), it is said that Louis called 
Lothair and Charles, pointed to a map of the lands that 
had been claimed by these three sons, and said to Lo- 
thair : " Here, rny son, is the whole realm before your 
eyes ; divide it, and Charles shall choose his portion ; or 
let us divide it, and you can choose." 

Whether this story is true or not, the fact remains that 
Lothair kept the central part of the empire, including 
Italy, while Charles took the western part for his share. 
King Louis was allowed to keep his former share, the 
eastern part of the empire ; but he was dissatisfied, and 
declared war against his father. 

Emperor Louis was on his way to subdue this rebellious 
son, when he was taken ill and died on an island in the 
Rhine, saying sadly, " I forgive my son, Louis, but let him 
remember that he caused his father's death, and that God 
always punishes disobedient children ! " 

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CHARLES I., THE BALD (840-877) 89 

XXIV. THE STRASSBURG OATH 

LOUIS died in 840, having reigned twenty-six years, 
most of which were spent in warring against his 
sons. During this time, the nobles took advantage of the 
disturbed state of the realm to seize all the land, wealth, 
and power they could, for each man thought of himself 
only, and not of the Emperor or country. 

When Louis died, his youngest son, Charles I., the Bald, 
ruled over most of what we now call France ; Louis (Lud- 
wig) over much of Germany ; and Lothair —^ who bore the 
title of Emperor : — had, besides Italy, a long, narrow strip 
of land running from the North Sea to the Alps, which 
included a great part of what is now known as Belgium and 
Switzerland. This realm was called Lothair's land, or 
Lotharin'gia, a name still borne by a small part of it, the 
province of Lorraine'. 

As already stated. King Louis was not satisfied with his 
share, and as he and Charles both refused to recognize 
Emperor Lothair as their master, war soon broke out. 
The three armies met at Fontenay (f6Nt-ne'), where was 
fought the " Battle of the Brothers," as it is often called 
(841). So many Frankish warriors lost their lives in this 
encounter that it is said no middle-class Franks were left, 
and none but lords of that race were to be found thereafter 
in France. 

Lothair was beaten and had to retreat, but the war con- 
tinued. Charles and Louis met at Strassburg, where, in 
the presence of their respective armies, they took a solemn 
oath to be true to each other. On this occasion Charles, 
the French king, spoke to his brother's soldiers in German, 



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90 



OLD FRANCE 



while Louis, the German monarch, addressed Charles's 
men in French. The **Strassburg Oath,'* taken in 842, 
was duly written down, and is now the oldest specimen of 
ancient French and German, for it was framed in the days 




y ^ T H SEA 



,1,1. Cil.Mil"' f 










■J : r A I N f 




O 



2^ V^^"' 



.■r-;^-£r™ 










Partition of Verdun (843). 

when those two languages were just beginning to take 
shape.^ 

Lothair, seeing plainly that he would not be strong 
enough to resist the combined forces of his two brothers, 
now signed a treaty with them at Verdun' (843), whereby 

1 Ogg's Source Book of Mediaval History^ p. 153. 

uigiTizea oy VjOOQIC 



CHARLES I., THE BALD (840-877) 91 

he retained his share of land, and the title of Emperor, but 
had no authority whatever over his brothers, each of whom 
was allowed to govern his realm as he chose. This treaty 
is considered very important in European history, because 
it marks the epoch when Germany, France, and Italy parted 
company, never to be really one again for any length of 
time. 

Charles I. now ruled over the land extending from the 
Pyrenees and the Ocean, to the Meuse and the Rhone. 
Here, as you know, Celts, Romans, Franks, Burgundians, 
and Goths had settled in turn, so that the French nation 
and language were made up of a mixture of all these dif- 
ferent elements. 

Unfortunately, the ruler of this rich land was as weak — 
although not as good — as his poor father. He never had 
to war against his sons, it is true, but he had to resist the 
nobles, who tried in every way to deprive him of his power. 
He was also greatly troubled by the Saracens, and espe- 
cially by the Northmen, or Normans, those terrible pirates 
whom Charlemagne had seen, and of whom he had pre- 
dicted that they would make endless trouble for France 
and for his descendants. 

By this time the Normans — who had not dared to land 
in France in Charlemagne's day — had grown so bold that 
they not only made yearly raids all along the coasts, but 
actually sailed up the principal rivers and even besieged 
and sacked strong towns like Rouen (roo-aN') and Paris. 

As Charles was not a fighter himself, he bade one of his 
nobles, Robert the Strong, defend the country, and in re- 
ward for his services made him Count of Paris. Robert, 
who was as brave as a lion, fought the Normans until he 

uigitizea Dy vjjOOQIC 



92 OLD FRANCE 

fell in battle (866) ; then the weak Charles bribed the bold 
invaders to go away. 

Although the Normans left France, it was only to re- 
turn before long to secure more money. This time, before 
he could induce the nobles to join him in driving them 
away, Charles had to make an edict, wherein he promised 
that the estates and offices of his vassals should not only 
be theirs as long as they lived, but should belong to 
their heirs after them. It was thus that Charles the Bald 
established hereditary nobility in France, where it has 
lasted until to-day. 



XXV. THE NORMANS BESIEGE PARIS 

ALTHOUGH weak and indolent, Charles was so anx- 
ious to bear the title of Emperor that he hastened 
to Rome as soon as Lothair*s son died, to be crowned 
there by the Pope. He also claimed his brother Louis's 
kingdom of Germany ; but wnile he was thus trying to in- 
crease his realm north and south, the Normans were con- 
stantly invading it from the west. Charles was on his way 
home from Italy to try to oppose them, when he died 
in the Alps, leaving France to his son Louis II., "the 
Stammerer.'* 

Louis II. had a short and uneventful reign of less than 
two years. Like his father, he made great concessions to 
the nobles, an example followed also by his sons and suc- 
cessors, Louis III. and Car'loman, who ruled in peace to- 
gether, but died early, after showing much more spirit than 
either father or grandfather. 



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CHARLES II., THE FAT (884-88>) 93 

During this time, the Normans were growing more and 
more troublesome, and they laid some parts of the land so 
completely waste that wolves roamed unhindered through 
ruined and deserted villages and towns. In fact, in those 
days, no one felt safe unless sheltered behind the strong 
walls of some great fortress. Such were the ravages of the 
Normans that the last-mentioned kings tried to buy them off 
by giving them a thousand pounds of gold a year. But 
when these two young monarchs died, leaving no heirs, the 
crown of France was given to their uncle, Charles II., the 
Fat, who already ruled over Germany and Italy. This uncle 
was as weak and cowardly as he was stout, so he proved a 
very bad ruler. Besides, he had already given the Normans 
a province in Holland, so these pirates, knowing he was 
not to be feared, sailed boldly up the Seine River and laid 
siege to Paris (885). 

King Charles remained inactive, but Eudes (ed), Count 
of Paris (a son of Robert the Strong), and the bishop, de- 
fended the city so bravely that they kept the foe at bay 
for about a year and a half. During that time the people 
suffered horribly from famine and disease ; but, encouraged 
by Eudes and the bishop, they nevertheless strengthened 
the walls, fought like heroes, and made up their minds to 
die rather than surrender. 

The Norman chief, Rol'lo, who led the attack, was such 
a giant that no horse could carry him. He was, therefore, 
always obliged to go afoot, which won for him the sur- 
name of " Ganger '* (gang'er), or ** Walker." He found the 
city — which had been thrice before besieged .by the Nor- 
mans — so well fortified this time that, in spite of his good 
generalship, he could not manage to take it. 



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(94) 



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CHARLES II., THE FAT (884-887) 95 

The Parisians, who then occupied only an island in the 
river (La Cit^), had barred both branches of the stream, 
so that even the seven hundred Norman vessels could not 
go farther inland, as they had first intended. The Normans, 
exasperated by these obstacles, made many attempts to 
scale the walls, but the Parisians hurled stones upon the 
assailants, poured streams of boiling oil and pitch down 
upon them, and even women and children are said to have 
fought on the walls most fiercely. 

Throughout this siege, Eudes kept up the people's cour- 
age, and once cut his way out of the city, through the close 
ranks of the enemy, to urge the king to come to the rescue 
of his besieged subjects. Lazy Charles made many prom- 
ises, but Eudes, seeing that help was not speedily forth- 
coming, returned to the city at the risk of his life, to cheer 
the inhabitants by his presence and share their hardships 
and labors. 

At the end of many months, Charles the Fat finally ap- 
peared on the heights near Paris with a huge army ; but, 
instead of attacking the Normans, he began to parley with 
them, and then weakly signed a new treaty, bribing them 
to pass on and rob Burgundy, but leave Paris in peace. 

Tfie Parisians, angry and ashamed, refused to ratify this 
treaty or to let the Normans pass, so the invaders had to 
carry their boats across country, and launch them farther 
upstream, beyond the obstructions placed to check their 
advance. 

On this occasion, you see, " The King of France and ten 
thousand men," as the nursery rhyme has it, " pulled out 
their swords and put them back again." But the French, 
who admire bravery above everything, indignantly refused 



uigiTizea oy ^^jv/v/x i^ 



96 OLD FRANCE 

to obey such a cowardly ruler any longer, and in 887 de- 
posed Charles, electing Eudes to rule in his stead. 



o>»;o 



XXVI. THE LAST OF THE CAROLINGIANS 

AS the new king was not of the Carolingian race, many 
of the lords seized this pretext to refuse him obedi- 
ence, and the country split up into several small parties, 
until there were as many as six crowned kings in France 
at once ! 

The best and bravest of all these monarchs was Eudes, 
who went on fighting against the Normans, over whom he 
won two great victories. But he had to oppose them al- 
most single-handed, for the peasants were afraid to venture 
out of the fortresses, even to till the land, and the nobles, 
jealous of Eudes*s power, would not obey him. Many of 
them selected a king of their own, Charles HI., the Simple 
(a brother of Louis IH. and Carloman), to rule France, and 
began a civil war to set him on the throne. First one 
party, then the other, had the advantage in this conflict, 
until finally Eudes died and Charles was left to rule alone. 

All the early part of Charles the Simple's reign was 
troubled by Norman raids, and in 911, hoping to end them 
once for all, this king made a famous treaty with RoUo, 
promising him a large province on the coast, and his 
daughter's hand in marriage, if the Norman chief would 
only become a Christian, do homage to the French king 
for his lands, maintain order in his own territory, and 
defend the rest of France against the raids of his fellow- 
Normans. 



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CHARLES III., THE SIMPLE (898-922) 97 

Rollo agreed to all this, but he was still so much of a 
barbarian that his rude manners greatly shocked the French 
courtiers. When told to do homage, for instance, by kneel- 
ing before the king, placing his hands in his master's while 
he took the oath, and then kissing the royal foot, he flatly 
refused. After some discussion, it was arranged that one 
of his men should go through this part of the ceremony in 
his stead. But the soldier who thus acted as RoUo's sub- 
stitute, or proxy, raised the king's foot so suddenly to his 
lips that the poor monarch actually lost his balance and 
fell over backwards ! 

The province which Charles thus abandoned to the Nor- 
mans was henceforth to be called Nor'mandy, or Land of 
the Normans, a name which it still bears. Rollo soon es- 
tablished such good order throughout all this state that 
it is said his golden bracelets hung three years on the 
branch of a tree by the roadside without any one daring 
to lay as much as a finger upon them. 

It is thus that the Normans, who first appeared off the 
coast of France as pirates in 799, won a lasting foothold 
there in 911. They became so strong and so civilized 
that about a century and a half later (in 1066) they 
crossed the Channel with a mighty army to conquer Eng- 
land.i 

For ten years following the gift of Normandy to Rollo, 
such government as there was in France was carried on 
wholly by the king's favorites. During this time, weak 
Charles either gave his lands away, or allowed them to be 
taken from him, until he had nothing left except one town 
(Laon), which had been his capital. 

1 See Story of the English^ pp. 73-82. 

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98 OLD FRANCE 

The nobles, exasperated by his weakness and laziness, 
finally deposed him in 922, and as Eudes had died, leaving 
no children, they now offered the crown to his brother, 
Robert, Count of Paris. This newly elected king had not 
much time granted him to show what he could do, for 
he was. soon killed in battle, but his son-in-law, Rodolph, 
succeeded him as king, and to prevent Charles from mak- 
ing any further vain attempts to regain the crown, clapped 
him into prison, where he kept him the rest of his life. 

Charles's wife and son had, meantime, taken refuge in 
England, and when Rodolph died, his brother-in-law, Hugh 
the Great — the most powerful nobleman in the realm — in- 
vited them to come back. The young Carolingian prince, 
who is known as Louis IV. {(f Outre-mer^ or " From Be- 
yond the Seas "), was now crowned by Hugh's order. But 
of course Hugh fully expected to exercise the royal power 
in his name, and when he found the young king very in- 
dependent, they quarreled hotly, and even came to open 
warfare. 

Louis IV. proved most unlucky during his reign of 
eighteen years, and when he died, still young, his son and 
grandson, Lothair and Louis V., became puppet kings in 
turn. At Hugh's death, in 956, all the real power passed 
into the hands of his son Hugh, called Capet (ca'pet, or 
ca-pe'), which means the "wearer of a hood," or a "long- 
headed " man. Very brave and capable, too, this Hugh 
ruled for a time, while Carolingians had the name of king ; 
but when at last Louis V. secretly made an alliance with 
the Germans, the indignant nobles assembled, and after 
setting aside the Carolingian race forever, offered the 
crown to the most powerful nobleman in France (987). 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



HUGH CAPET (987-996) 99 

It IS thus that Hugh Capet became founder of the third 
dynasty of kings. He was crowned at Rheims, where six 
noblemen and six bishops, called the king's peers or 
equals, were granted special honors and privileges. 
Hugh Capet, being Count of Paris, continued to dwell in 
that city, which was ever after to be the capital of the 
kingdom. For the first time the country, hitherto 
known by different names, can now really be called 
France, although for convenience' sake we have already 
used that term. 



XXVII. THE YEAR ONE THOUSAND 

THE Merovingians and Carolingians had occupied the 
throne during more than five centuries, and the 
scepter had now passed into the hands of the third, or 
Ca-pe'tian race, which was to supply all the other kings 
who afterward ruled in France. 

The new ruler had, at first, very little power, and was 
master merely of his own duchy, which included only 
about one twentieth of what we now call France. Besides 
humoring his twelve peers, Hugh tried to keep on good 
terms with some hundred and fifty petty noblemen, who 
had the right to coin money and were practically kings, 
their castles being their capitals. 

In those days such lords made war against one another 
without consulting the king, and sometimes even annexed 
lands and assumed titles. One nobleman having done 
this, Hugh haughtily inquired, " Who made you count ? " 
But the nobleman, in nowise daunted, pertly retorted, 
" Well, who made you king ? " 



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lOO OLD FRANCE 

In fact, Hugh was so little a king at first that he dared 
not even punish such insolence as this, but was obliged to 
overlook it, and go on as best he could. He felt far from 
secure on the throne, and to make sure his son Robert 
would eventually succeed him, he had the young man 
crowned during his owji lifetime. 

No great progress was made in France under Hugh 
Capet. Not only were the nobles turbulent, but many 
people were already uneasy at the thought that the end 
of the world was drawing near. You must know that 
there were some people in those days who said that in 
the year icxx) the Last Judgment would take place ; for it 
was thus that they interpreted a passage in the Bible. 

Many people, thinking they would soon have no further 
use for their money, houses, and lands, now gave all they 
had to the Church, or distributed their goods among the 
poor ; for they believed that such gifts would help to se- 
cure the forgiveness of sins they might have committed. 
Some farmers thought it useless to sow grain, as usual in 
the fall, or to plant crops of any kind, since they could not 
expect to gather the harvest. As the weather happened 
to be very bad just then, every storm was viewed as a 
new and sure sign that the end of the world was near at 
hand. 

But the year icxx) came, and nothing happened ! Day 
after day people expected the Judgment, which did not 
come. Then they fancied that perchance an error had 
been made in reckoning the exact time of Christ's birth, 
and two or three years passed thus in uncertainty. As they 
still continued to exist, they now imagined that the end of 
the world would come locx) years after Christ's death. 



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ROBERT I. (996-1031) loi 

instead of after His birth, and as Christ lived some thirty- 
three years, this view kept people uneasy a long time. 

All through the beginning of the eleventh century, 
therefore, few improvements were made in the country, 
and at times many people merely lived from day to day, 
in hourly expectation of the end. As there were many 
little wars in this period also, the result was great poverty 
and several terrible famines. 

Then, as always happens, after the famines came 
plagues; for idle, dirty, ill-fed people are much more 
likely to catch and spread diseases than those who work 
hard, keep clean, and are properly fed. In fact, so many 
people died of the plague that whole towns and villages 
were deserted, and wolves roamed through the empty 
streets and houses, vainly seeking something to eat 



XXVIII. ROBERT'S TWO WIVES 

ROBERT I., who came to the throne four years before 
the new century began, was a gentle and very pious 
man, who would have made an excellent monk, for he 
loved to attend services, sing hymns, and compose church 
music. 

Because he felt such respect for the Church, he was 
greatly troubled when the Pope bade him send away his 
wife. You must know that a general law of the Church 
forbids marriages between cousins, and it happened that 
Robert and his wife Bertha were closely related. Robert, 
loving his wife dearly, refused at first to obey the Pope's 
command, so priests were sent to excommunicate him, 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



I02 



OLD FRANCE 



that is to say, to forbid him to enter any church, and 
to tell him that he and his wife were accursed, because 
they were committing what the Church considered a 
deadly sin. 

The priests first read the Pope's message to the royal 
couple, and then turning over a lighted torch, or taper, 




PaUUiny by Lawreiis, 



Excommunication of Robert. 



which they had brought, they quenched its light, solemnly 
crying : " May you be accursed, may you be banished with 
Cain the fratricide, with the traitor Judas, with Da'than 
and Abi'ram, who entered hell, and may your joy be extin- 
guished at the aspect of the Holy angels as this light is 
extinguished before your eyes ! " ^ 

This curse pronounced, the priests filed slowly out, leav- 



1 See Story of the Chosen People, pp. 20, 78. 



y Google 



ROBERT I. (996-1031) 103 

ing the king and queen alone with these awful words still 
ringing in their ears ! After this ceremony, all churches 
were closed wherever the royal couple happened to be, 
few people consented to obey or serve them, and the very 
dishes from which they ate had to be purified by fire be- 
fore any one else would touch them. 

Robert tried at first to be brave and not mind this ex- 
communication. But when it became clear that this firm- 
ness was bringing misfortune upon the people intrusted to 
his care, both he and his wife — who was a good woman 
— perceived that they would have to yield to the Pope*s 
authority. Bertha therefore sadly withdrew to a convent, 
where she spent the rest of her life as a nun, and the Pope 
forgave Robert and allowed the churches to be reopened. 

Before long, yielding to his people*s entreaties, the king 
married a second time, taking Constance, a haughty young 
noblewoman, to wife. This queen brought many new 
fashions to court, and as she was fond of dress, display, 
and amusement, effected many changes in the pious king*s 
outward life. Instead of a monk-like robe, he now wore 
long mantles trimmed with gold fringe, and his weapons 
were adorned with silver trappings. But at heart Robert 
was quite unchanged. One day, having given away all 
his money to the poor, he led a beggar into his private 
room, where, with the latter's aid, he removed the silver 
ornaments from his lance. Then giving them to the poor 
man, he bade him be off, with the warning, " Do not let 
Constance see you!'* 

When the French king was at his meals, beggars were 
always admitted by his order to eat the crumbs which fell 
from the royal table. A poor man, sitting at the king's 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



I04 OLD FRANCE 

feet, once slyly cut off a piece of gold fringe at the bottom 
of his garment, whereupon the king bent down and softly 
whispered : " There, my man, that is enough for thee ; 
leave a little for the next beggar, who may need it even 
more than thou.'* 

The king was so fond of church music that he often 
composed hymns, some of which still exist. The new 
queen, who greatly admired music of a lighter sort, often 
begged her husband to write songs for her. She was 
therefore greatly delighted one day when, glancing at 
some music he had just written, she caught sight of the 
Latin words, " O Constantia Martyrum." You see, she 
knew so little of Latin that she fancied she saw her 
own name, and thought that the song was all about her, 
whereas it referred to the constancy of the martyrs ! 

Besides the plagues, famines, and all the woes connected 
with the dread of the world's end, Robert suffered many 
troubles from his barons and his family. The Normans 
helped his wife and son when they once rose up and made 
war against him. It was also during his reign that some 
of the Normans, who were always thirsting for adventure, 
went southward and gained a foothold in Italy. 

Poor Robert's troubles ended only with his death (103 1), 
but as he had wisely followed his father's example, and 
had crowned his son, Henry I., during his lifetime, no seri- 
ous resistance was made to this prince's coming to the 
throne. In fact, the only persons who raised any objec- 
tion were the new king's mother and younger brother; 
but Henry satisfied their claims by giving his brother 
the duchy of Burgundy, which his father had recently 
acquired. 

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HENRY I. (1031-1060) . 105 

XXIX. THE WEALTH OF THE CLERGY 

NOT only were the last years of Hugh Capet's reign 
and all of Robert's overshadowed by fears that the 
world would soon come to an end, but the beginning of 
Henry L's reign was also troubled in the same way, as it was 
now about one thousand years since the Passion of our Lord. 
Once more the fields were left untilled, in daily expectation 
of immediate judgment, and for about three years, from 
Greece to England, little work was done. Consequently, 
people suffered greatly from famine and plague. While 
the rich could draw upon reserve resources, the poor suf- 
fered so intensely that some actually turned cannibals, 
while others ate roots, grass, and even lumps of clay. 

The time having passed again without bringing about 
the expected change, people finally took courage once more, 
and began again to plant and sow. With work, plenty was 
restored, but many of the French were very much poorer, 
for, while dreading the coming judgment, they had given 
away all they owned to the Church, which could now boast 
of being far richer than the king or any of his nobles. 

Not only was much of the land and wealth thus held by 
the clergy, but most of the knowledge — and hence most of 
the power — centered in them also. Each monastery was at 
this time a sort of school or university, where a number of 
the most intelligent monks were carefully educated to be 
the teachers, preachers, and learned men of the day. Such 
men as were found capable of receiving the necessary in- 
struction were trained to be scribes, and in each monastery 
a room called scriba'rium was set aside, where, day after 
day, monks painstakingly copied the books they owned, 



uigiTizea oy ^wiiv_/V-/x i-^ 



io6 OLD FRANCE 

or such as they could borrow. Thus in a few years each 
monastery collected a little library of its own, and, however 
small, these collections of manuscripts were justly consid- 
ered precious, for in those days a single book was often 
worth more than a whole farm. 

It was at this time also that a beginning was made in 
building many great cathedrals. The monks invested part 
of their wealth in erecting beautiful churches, which they 
adorned with statues, paintings, and exquisite stained-glass 
windows, often the work of some of their number. Many 
great churches took several hundred years to finish, and 
some of them show, in different parts, varying styles of 
architecture. The heavy Roman style, with round arches, 
came first, and was followed by the Gothic style, with 
pointed arches. 

The most learned man of the tenth century was the 
French monk Gerbert (zh^r-bir'), who is noted as the in- 
ventor of a clock. He also introduced into Europe the 
Arabic numbers, which made arithmetical operations easy. 
Because he was wiser than most of the men of his time, he 
was accused of practicing magic, but he succeeded, never- 
theless, in winning so much respect that he was chosen 
to occupy the papal chair under the name of Sylvester II. 
He was the first Frenchman ever elected Pope. 

Throughout the thirty years* reign of King Henry I., he 
had many troubles with his barons, who had become so 
accustomed to do as they pleased that they were continu- 
ally at war with one another. Whenever the barons fought, 
their vassals were either obliged to follow them, or to take 
refuge within the castle walls and leave their fields un- 
tilled. But the many little wars waged in all parts of 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



HENRY I. (1031-1060) 107 

France at this epoch so sorely hindered the cultivation of 
the soil that food became very scarce. 

No less than twoscore famines having occurred in about 
fifty years, the priests, wishing to put an end to the 
trouble, suggested an arrangement whereby no fighting 
should be allowed throughout Lent or Advent, or any 
feast day, or from Wednesday evening to Monday morn- 
ing of any week. 

This was called the '* Truce of God,'* and the barons hav- 
ing agreed to keep it, it was decided that any man who failed 
to respect it should be fined or banished. As only eighty 
fighting days a year were left by this arrangement, the peas- 
ants were able to make use of the remainder to cultivate 
the fields without dread of being either killed or captured. 

But the noblemen, who indulged in no occupation save 
warfare and hunting, were so greatly bored by their en- 
f6rced idleness that many of the most turbulent left home 
in search of adventure, while others joined in any war 
which happened to be going on at the time. It was thu^ 
that many of the Normans went to fight in southern Italy 
and Sicily, where they established a kingdom which was 
to last a long time. 

Some nobles, in repentance for their sins, made pilgrim- 
ages to the Holy Land. Of all King Henry's many pow- 
erful vassals, the most important was the Duke of Nor- 
mandy, called ** Robert the Magnificent" by the nobles, 
and " Robert the Devil " by the poor. Wishing to atone 
for his many sins, — which included several murders, — 
this Robert decided to make a pilgrimage to the Holy 
Sepulcher. He died while on his way home, and was suc- 
ceeded by his son William ^the Conqueror). 

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io8 



OLD FRANCE 



Henry I. left his kingdom to his son Philip I. (1060), 
who was crowned when only seven years old. A few years 
later Duke William prepared to take possession of the 
English crown, and began by asking Philip to join in the 
expedition. Philip having refused, William ever after in- 
sisted that he owed no homage to the French king for the 
land he won on the other side of the Channel (1066).^ 

Philip I., seeing that his vassal, after this conquest, was 
far more powerful than himself, became violently jealous, 

and soon vented some 
of his spite by saying 
sarcastically, one day, 
that William was far too 
fat to move. But Wil- 
liam proceeded to prove 
the French king was 
greatly mistaken by de- 
claring war against him 
and threatening to drive 
him out of his capital, 
Paris. 

William was in a fair 
way to succeed in exe- 
cuting this threat, when 
his horse stepped on 
some hot ashes at the 
siege of Mantes (maNt), 
and threw the rider so 
violently against the pommel of the saddle that he died 
shortly after from the effects of the injury. William was 

1 See Story of the English ^ pp. 73-84. 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 




Statue of William the Conqueror, 
at Falaise. 



PHILIP I. (1060-1108) 109 

buried in Normandy, and his inheritance was divided among 
his sons, one of whom received the duchy of Normandy 
and did homage to the French king, while the sovereign 
of England remained entirely independent. 



^oQ^Co* 



XXX. THE FIRST CRUSADE 

WHILE people were living in constant dread of the 
end of the world, and feared for their salvation, 
they had undertaken many pilgrimages. Most of the 
pilgrims set out to visit the Holy Sepulcher, which was 
then in the keeping of the Saracens. These people, al- 
though not Christians themselves, had been moderately 
kind to pilgrims, but when the Holy Land fell into the 
hands of the Turks, poor Christians were subjected to 
great hardships. The story of their sufferings, of the 
lack of respect shown by the Turks for the holy places, 
and of the robbery and murder frequently committed upon 
pilgrim bands, little by little roused a storm of indignation 
in Europe. 

In each castle it was customary to set aside a room, 
known as the " Pilgrims* Room," for the use of all holy 
travelers. Wanderers on their way to and from the Holy 
Land, were entertained everywhere free of charge ; but in 
return for food and lodging they generally amused the 
owner of the castle and his family with thrilling tales of 
their adventures. Such tales were also sometimes told by 
traveling bards, or singers, who were called "trouy^res*' 
(troo-vAr') in the north of France, and "troubadours" 



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no 



OLD FRANCE 



(troo'ba-doorz) in the south. In these ways the conditions 
at Jerusalem became well known in most parts of France. 
In 1094, one of the returning pilgrims, Peter the Hermit, 
obtained from Pope Urban II. (a Frenchman) permission 
to preach a holy war against the Turks, and to urge the 
noblemen to arm speedily and march to Palestine to rescue 
the tomb of our Lord from the hands of unbelievers. 



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Painting by Archer. 

Peter the Hermit preaching the Crusade. 

A great assembly was therefore held at Cler'mont, whither 
the clergy and nobility were invited, and where the Pope 
and Peter the Hermit eloquently described the sufferings 
of the Christians, and urged the barons to enlist in a holy 
war. Such was the effect of this eloquence that most of 
the knights present then and there donned a red cross, to 
show that they would fight for the Lord; and, as* the 



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PHILIP I. (1060-1108) III 

Latin word for cross is cruXy this pious undertaking be- 
came known as a crusade. Not only did the clergy and 
nobility enlist in this war, but the poor and helpless, think- 
ing they were as good in the sight of the Lord as the rich 
and strong, joined in it also. 

Two great expeditions therefore soon set out from France. 
The first was composed mainly of poor men, women, and 
children, led by monks and by an adventurer known as 
Walter the Penniless. This band followed the usual pil- 
grim route, through Europe to Constantinople, begging its 
way, and stealing and murdering whenever a good opportu- 
nity offered. When this rabble reached Constantinople, the 
Eastern Emperor, not wishing to support them, and finding 
them far too disorderly to be desirable guests, sent them 
hurriedly across the Bos'phorus to Asia, where they were 
soon attacked and annihilated by the Turks. 

A second band, — the real expedition, — composed of 
fighting men only, and led by Godfrey of Bouillon (boo- 
y6N'), made a much more successful journey, and having 
reached Asia, besieged Antioch(an'ti-6k), which was taken 
after eight months. 

In 1099, five years after the first crusade had been 
preached, the crusaders came in sight of Jerusalem, where 
they fought so bravely that the city fell into their hands. 
A Christian " Kingdom of Jerusalem " was now founded, 
with Godfrey at its head, but he firmly refused the title of 
king, saying he would not wear a golden crown on the spot 
where his Redeemer had worn a crown of thorns, and 
preferred to be called " Defender of the Holy Sepulcher." 

Although more than five hundred thousand persons set 
out on this crusade, less than five thousand returned, nearly 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



112 OLD FRANCE 

all the rest having perished, either from sickness or at the 
hands of the Turks. A small number of crusaders, left to 
defend the new conquest, formed two famous societies, 
which are known as the "Knights Templar** and the 
" Knights Hos'pitalers." The former undertook to guard 
the Holy Sepulcher and the places made sacred by the life 
and death of our Lord, while the latter established inns 
where pilgrims could be lodged and cared for on their way 
to and from Jerusalem, and served as their armed escort 
in time of need. 

Thus the first crusade — and the only one which was 
wholly successful — was mainly the work of Frenchmen. 
The kingdom of Jerusalem, which they established, lasted 
for eighty-eight years. It was because the first crusaders 
came from France that Europeans were dubbed Franks 
by the Turks, a name they still bear in the East. 

The first crusade was followed by many others, which 
caused great changes in France. During many years not 
only were all the principal fighting men absent, — thus 
leaving none but peaceful folk at home, — but many of 
the noblemen, in order to procure funds for the expedi- 
tion, either mortgaged or sold their lands, or allowed their 
vassals to purchase their freedom. 

The king, who stayed at home and took no part in the 
crusade, found it comparatively easy to govern old men, 
women, and children, who were not likely either to resist 
his authority or to quarrel among themselves, so he could 
consider himself really head of the realm for the first time. 
He also took advantage of the times to extend his estates. 

Then, too, many cities, having purchased the right to 
themselves during their lords* absence, now obtained 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



LOUIS VI. (iio8>ii37) 113 

from the king charters of rights which established their 
freedom. The very first charter granted to a " commune," 
or city, in France is said to have been given (to the city 
of Le Mans) the same year that William conquered Eng- 
land (1066). 

During the first crusade many similar charters were 
granted. All these free cities soon erected city halls, 
where the burghers assembled, and tall belfries where 
hung the bells that rang out the alarm {tocsin) in time of 
danger or fire. These bells also rang for "curfew,** — 
the daily signal for putting out the lights and banking the 
fires, — and thus helped to maintain order and safety. 

Most of the free cities, like the castles, were surrounded 
by high walls, pierced by gateways flanked with tow- 
ers, where watchmen were posted night and day, to notify 
the authorities of the approach of an enemy or of the out- 
break of any fire or other disturbance. 



XXXI. A LOVE STORY 

PHILIP I. was succeeded in 1 108 by his son Louis VI., 
who bore at different times the surnames of " the 
Fighter," " the Wide-awake," and " the Fat." During his 
twenty-nine years' reign he made many efforts to suppress 
the brigand lords intrenched in their castles, gave his pro- 
tection to the weak against the strong, and greatly en- 
couraged the forming of communes. In fact, he favored 
the latter so openly that he is often called "the Father 
of Communes." 



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114 OLD FRANCE 

Besides fighting his nobles, he also had to make war 
against Henry I. of England, who made good his claim to 
Normandy. During one battle in this war (Brenneville, 
1 1 19), Louisas horse happened to be seized by an enemy, 
who cried out in triumph, ** The king is taken ! ** But 
Louis promptly retorted, " Do you not know enough chess 
to be aware that a king cannot be taken ! " Saying these 
words, he raised his weapon and felled his would-be captor, 
thus promptly freeing himself. 

This battle is memorable chiefly because of the small 
number of slain. Although the fighting lasted many 
hours, it is said that only three knights fell. This is ac- 
counted for by the fact that none but noblemen took part 
in the fray, and that they were all so well protected by 
their armor that it was almost impossible to kill them. 
In such battles, horses, too, were covered with heavy armor, 
and trained to run against the foe with such force that 
knights were often unhorsed before they had a chance to 
strike a blow. A knight thrown thus upon his back could 
seldom rise again without aid, so squires and attendants 
were always expected to hasten to their master's rescue 
whenever such an accident befell him. 

The King of England, angry because the French tried 
to take Normandy, now urged the Emperor of Germany 
to invade France. Louis, hearing of this, called the com- 
munes and nobles to his aid, and going to St. Denis, took 
the oriflamme. These warlike preparations proved enough 
to frighten the Germans, who gave up all hope of doing 
anything, and signed a treaty ( 1 1 24). 

It was also during the reign of Louis VI. that a young 
man named Ab^lard (a-ba-lar') won a great reputation in 



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From, an Old Print. 



Tomb of Abelard and Heloise. 



("5) 



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Ii6 OLD FRANCE 

the Paris schools. His eloquence was such that many stu- 
dents came to listen to him, and his learning so remarkable 
that he was engaged as private tutor for the beautiful 
H^lolfse (a-lo-ez'), niece of one of the church dignitaries. 

While teaching this young lady, — who was as talented 
as he, — Ab^lard fell in love with her, and persuaded her 
to elope with him. This caused much scandal, and the 
young people being soon overtaken, were separated, placed 
in religious houses, and ordered never to think of each 
other again. 

In spite of these commands, they managed to see each 
other and to exchange frequent letters, some of which 
nave been preserved, and are considered fine specimens of 
French literature. After many, many trials, these lovers 
died, and were finally buried in the same tomb, which can 
now be seen in a cemetery (Le P^re La Chaise) in Paris, and 
which is often visited by strangers as well as by French- 
men. There you frequently see fresh flowers strewn over 
the stone figures of the recumbent lovers, for many 
people have been touched by the tale of their unhappy 
love affair. 



XXXn. THE SECOND CRUSADE 

LOUIS VL placed the lilies {fleurs de //j) —emblems of 
purity of faith — on his coat of arms, and ever since 
his day, kings of France always used that flower as their 
distinctive symbol. He was very ambitious, and made 
many efforts to extend his power and increase his realm. 
He planned a marriage between his son and heir, Louis, 



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LOUIS VII. (1137-1180) 117 

and El'eanor of Aquitaine (ak-wt-t5n'), the heiress of vast 
estates in southern France. Although the king died sud- 
denly before this marriage could take place, his son, Louis 
VII., "the Younger," dutifully carried out his wishes by 
marrying this lady. 

With his own and his wife's estates, Louis VII. was 
richer and more influential than any French king of his 
race before him. He was brave, but not always wise, and 
his reign was troubled by wars against England and many 
difficulties with his barons. In one of these contests he 
rashly set fire to a large town, where thirteen hundred 
poor people had taken refuge in a church and perished 
in the flames. Thereupon, full of remorse, and wishing 
to do penance, he made a vow that he would go on a pil- 
grimage to the Holy Land. 

Just about this time the Turks had been successful at 
last in their efforts to reconquer some of the places taken 
from them by the Christians in the first crusade^ Stories 
of their successes and of their cruelty roused great indig- 
nation among all Christian people, so Pope Eugene III. 
sent St. Bernard — a monk famous for his piety, learning, 
and visions — to preach the second crusade. ^ 

Like Peter the Hermit, St. Bernard preached to such 
good purpose that most of his hearers enlisted in the holy 
war. Among these were the King and Queen of France, 
and when Bernard went to Germany he induced the Em- 
peror and his court to take the cross also. Thus, you see, 
the second crusade was not under French leaders only. 

The Germans started first, encountered great hardships, 
and most of their forces were destroyed. The French 
were more fortunate ; yet they were often in great danger, 
o. F. — 8 r^ ] 

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Ii8 OLD FRANCE 

and on one occasion the king had to cling to a tree on 
the edge of a precipice with one hand, and defend himself 
against a large force of enemies with the other. But, 
having almost by miracle escaped from this great peril, 
Louis VII. pressed on, and after making vain attempts to 
take Damas'cus, returned home, without having fulfilled his 
avowed purpose of visiting the Holy Sepulcher (1149). 

During the king's long absence, his realm had been 
wisely governed by his former tutor, Suger (sii-zha'), abbot 
of St. Denis, a learned, hard-working, and patriotic French- 
man. Seeing that many of the most turbulent nobles soon 
became discouraged and returned home, this man wrote to 
the crusading king : " Those who trouble the public peace 
come home, while you remain abroad. What are you 
thinking of, my lord, to leave at the mercy of wolves the 
sheep intrusted to your care ? " 

It was after the receipt of this warning that Louis aban- 
doned tlve crusade and returned to France, where he re- 
warded Suger for his good offices by bestowing upon him 
the title, " Father of his Country/' As long as Suger lived, 
the king was guided mainly by his counsels, but after his 
death Louis rashly divorced his wife, Eleanor (1152), who, 
being an heiress and a spoiled child, had not been an 
agreeable wife. But in divorcing this lady — by whom he 
had no children — Louis was obliged to let her take back 
the estates she had brought as a dowry. These she now 
bestowed with her hand upon Henry Plantag'enet, who, 
two years later, became King Henry II. of England. 

With his own and his wife's estates, this English monarch 
owned more land in France than the FVench king himself 
(see first map on page 163); still, he was Louis VIL's 



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PHILIP II. AUGUSTUS (i 180-1223) 119 

vassal, and was bound to do homage to him for all this 
prpperty. The English king, however, did not find Eleanor 
a more comfortable helpmate than did Louis VII. ; for later 
on she encouraged their sons to rebel against him, and 
was always stirring up some trouble at his court.^ 



XXXIII. MORE CRUSADES 

AFTER divorcing this first wife, Louis VII. married 
again, and to his great joy became father of a son, 
whom he called Philip, "the Gift of God," or Philip Augustus. 
This child was crowned as Philip II. during his father's life- 
time, and succeeded him before reaching fifteen years of age. 
Although so young, he showed great skill and tact, made 
a treaty with his nobles when they rebelled against him, 
suppressed all law-breakers, and — like most of the good 
Christians of his day — persecuted the Jews with great 
cruelty. He also extended his lands by marrying a de- 
scendant of Charlemagne, Isabella of Hainault(e-n5'), who 
brought him vast estates as part of her dowry. 

Philip Augustus also upheld Eleanor and Henry II.'s 
sons in their rebellion against their father. One of these 
princes, Richard, — later known as the Lion-hearted, — 
was a great friend of his. After some time they two 
induced Henry to meet them under an elm on the frontier, 
and sign a treaty. 

Here it was also arranged that, instead of continuing to 
fight against each other, the two nations should combine 
forces to undertake a new crusade. This plan was made 

^ See Story of the English ^ pp. 96-105. 

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I20 OLD FRANCE 

because news had just been received that the King of Jeru- 
salem had been taken prisoner, and that the Holy City had 
been obliged to surrender to SaVadin, a leader of the Turks 
and Saracens noted for great valor. 

When the tidings came that the Holy Sepulcher was 
again in the hands of the infidels, great excitement pre- 
vailed everywhere, and it was soon decided that all those 
who could not, for any reason, take part in the expedition, 
should contribute one tenth of their wealth to help defray 
the expenses of the third crusade. This tax is known as 
" Saladin's Tithe," because it was raised to fight this Sara- 
cen ruler and his forces. 

Philip, King of France, and Richard — who was now King 
of England — started by sea for the Holy Land. They 
were obliged, however, to winter in Sicily, where, having 
nothing else to do, they began a quarrel, wl^ich was to 
grow more and more bitter in time. From there, Philip 
hurried directly to the siege of A'cre, while Richard stopped 
on the way to take possession of the island of Cyprus. 

The two kings had expected a large German force to 
join them in Palestine, but the Emperor, Frederick Bar- 
baros'sa, was drowned on the way, and his army was 
nearly exterminated, so that only a small band of Germans 
met Philip and Richard at Acre. There, during the two- 
years' siege which followed, many quarrels arose among 
the crusaders, who were very jealous of one another. 

The city having finally been taken, Philip Augustus an- 
nounced that he must return home ; but before he left he 
made a solemn promise not to attack any of Richard's 
lands while the latter was absent from England. Richard 
therefore remained in the Holy Land, doing such feats of 



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PHILIP II. AUGUSTUS (i 180-1223) 121 

arms that his name became a terror to the foe. Still, in 
spite of his heroic efforts, he did not succeed in retaking 
Jerusalem, and had to content himself with making a treaty 
by which Saladin agreed to leave the maritime cities in the 
hands of the Christians, and to allow pilgrims to visit the 
holy shrines without molestation. 

Richard now set out for home, too, but was shipwrecked 
on the way, and fell into the hands of the Duke of Austria, 
who sold him to his enemy, the Emperor of Germany, by 
whom he was kept in prison for fourteen months. The 
story of his captivity, of his rescue by his minstrel, and of 
his return home, is told in English history. It was during 
Richard's absence that his brother, John Lackland, made 
an attempt to take possession of England, being aided in 
this treachery by Philip Augustus. So when news finally 
came that Richard was ransomed and coming home, Philip 
wrote immediately to John Lackland, saying, ** Take care 
of yourself, for the devil is unchained ! ** 

Having returned home and made friends with his false 
brother, Richard proceeded to avenge himself for Philip's 
treachery by making war against him. For the next five 
years, therefore, there was much trouble between the two 
nations. During this time the French king suffered several 
defeats, and had several hair-breadth escapes ; but Richard 
was finally killed while besieging a castle in central 
France (11^).^ 

In 1 201 the fourth crusade was preached, but, although 
noblemen from all parts of Europe took part in it, none 
of the kings enlisted. ' The crusaders, having hired ships 
from Ven'ice, yet not being able to pay for them in coin, 

1 See Story of the English^ pp. 105-117. 

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122 



OLD FRANCE 



gave, instead, their services to that republic, which was 
then engaged in war in Dalma'tia. Next, the crusaders 
went on to Constantinople, which they conquered, and 
where they founded a Latin empire which was to last 
about sixty years. The chief historian of this crusade is 
the entertaining story-teller, Villehardouin (veel-ar-dwaN'), 




Carcassonne. 

whose account of this campaign is one of the French 
classics. 

Seven years after the fourth crusade had been preached, 
the French began to wage war against some heretics in the 
south of France — people who professed to be Christians, 
and yet upheld certain doctrines contrary to the teachings 
of the Church. As one of their* strongholds was Albi 
(al-bee'), they are known as the Albigen'ses, and the cru- 
sade against them — which lasted, with intervals, about 

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PHILIP II. AUGUSTUS (i 180-1223) 123 

thirty-five years — is known as the fifth, or Albigensian 
crusade. The king himself was too busy at that time to 
take any part in it, so the war was led by a Norman baron, 
Simon of Mont'fort, who conducted it with great energy, 
and was rewarded for his services by the gift of large 
estates in the south, and the title of Count of Toulouse 
(too-looz'). 

In 1209, these crusaders took the town of B^ziers (ha- 
zy a'), where they put to death all the inhabitants. One 
of the captains, having asked how they were to distinguish 
between heretics and good Catholics, was cruelly told to 
kill all, for "the Lord would know which were the sheep 
and which were the goats!" Carcassonne (car-ca-s6n') 
soon fell'also, and the heretics had to sue for peace. 

Simon of Montfort having died (121 8) during a renewal 
of the Albigensian war, his son besought the help of the 
king, who now granted it ; but the southerners did not like 
their new master, and in the end the estates won by 
Montfort were given up to the king and added to the 
crown lands (1229). 



XXXIV. THE BATTLE OF BOUVINES 

WHEN Richard the Lion-hearted died, his brother, 
John Lackland, took possession of England and 
Normandy, although he had no real claim to them, for 
they belonged by right to his little nephew, Arthur of Brit- 
tany. But John, having this child in his power, imprisoned 
him, and probably put him to death with his own hand, 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



PHILIP II. AUGUSTUS (1180-1223) 125 

for the boy disappeared after having last been seen with 
his heartless uncle.^ 

When Philip of France heard that Arthur was dead, he 
summoned John, as his vassal the Duke of Normandy, to 
appear before his peers, to answer for the murder of his 
nephew. John refused to obey, so Philip confiscated all 
his estates in France. Thus Normandy, which had been 
three hundred years in other hands, came back to the 
crown. But the result of this confiscation was a war, in 
which John Lackland finally secured as allies the Emperor 
of Germany and the Count of Flanders, the latter being a 
rebellious baron who had already defied his master so 
openly that Philip had sworn, " Either France shall be- 
come Flanders, or Flanders, France ! " 

Philip Augustus, called upon to meet the allied Eng- 
lish, Flemish, and German forces just when he was about 
to invade England, summoned his barons and burghers, 
and set out for Bouvines (boo-veen'); where a decisive 
battle was fought (1214). Shortly before the encounter, 
Philip, who bad been hearing mass, placed his crown on 
an open-air altar, and said to his nobles, "If any one 
here thinks he can wear this crown more worthily let 
him step forward and take it." The noblemen, awed by 
the numbers arrayed against them, were not desirous of 
assuming such responsibilities at that moment, so they 
unanimously cried, "We want no other king than you ! " 

Thus assured of the loyalty of his followers, Philip Au- 
gustus began the battle, in which he and the German Em- 
peror fought bravely^ and had several horses killed under 
them. At the end of the day the German Emperor and 

1 See Story of the English, pp. 11 7-1 18. 

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126 OLD FRANCE 

John were in full flight, and the Count of Flanders was 
a prisoner. Philip Augustus returned home in triumph, 
followed by his prisoner in chains. The rebellious count 
was then put in an iron cage, to serve as a useful object- 
lesson for all nobles who attempted to oppose their king ! 

Because the communes as well as the nobles took part 
in the battle of Bouvines, it is considered the first great 
national victory. It was celebrated with great rejoicings, 
the streets being strewn with flowers and the houses all 
hung with flags and tapestry. 

A year after this battle, the English barons wrung from 
John Lackland the Great Charter (1215), but as he did not 
keep his promises, they offered the crown of England to 
a French prince the next year. The heir to the French 
throne might thus, perchance, have become master of Eng- 
land also, had not John suddenly died, leaving a child 
(Henry III.) to succeed him. Now the rebellious English 
barons preferred a child — in whose name they could rule 
— to any foreign prince, so the Frenchman had to return 
home without having gained anything by his venture.^ 



XXXV. REGENCY OF BLANCHE OF CASTILE 

PHILIP II. Augustus died in 1223. During his 
wise reign the crown lands were greatly increased in 
extent, the capital was surrounded with new ramparts, — 
fragments of which still exist, — the Louvre (loo'vr*) was 
begun, and work on the cathedral Notre Dame (started 
under Louis VII., 1163), was concluded. 

1 See Story of the English^ pp. 117-124. 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



LOUIS VITI. (1223-1226) 127 

We are told that the king, standing at his palace 
window, was one day so offended by the stench arising 
from the muddy streets that he decreed that they should 
henceforth be paved. Philip Augustus also built the 
public markets, and founded the French University, 
a continuation of the Paris schools made famous by 
Abelard. 

Although a good king, Philip Augustus proved a faith- 
less husband, for he divorced one wife merely for the 
pleasure of marrying another, a high-handed proceeding 
for which he was duly punished by being excommunicated. 
Then, having been forced to take back the discarded wife, 
he proved so unkind to her that she cannot have regretted 
him greatly when he died. 

Philip's son, Louis VIIL, called the Lion, or the Fat, 
had a brief reign of three years, during which he had to 
fight the English, and to carry on the war against the 
Albigenses. He, too, won some territory, so that when he 
died, of all the lands which the English had once owned 
in France, they had nothing left but the province of 
Guienne (gee-en' ; see second map on page 163). 

Early in life Louis VIIL had married Blanche of Cas- 
tile, an unusually intelligent and capable woman. She 
gave him several children, and when he died she became 
regent in fact, though not in title, for her eleven-year-old 
son, Louis IX. The wise queen brought up this prince 
with the utmost care, and as she was a firm and pious 
woman, she made a very good man of him. We are in- 
formed that she taught him to be charitable, and was in 
the habit of saying, " Know, my son, though I am devoted 
to you, and feel all a mother's love for you, I should 



uigiTizea oy x^jvjkj^L^ 



128 OLD PRANCE 

prefer to see you dead rather than have you become guilty 
of any mortal sin.** 

Besides being good, Blanche was brave ; it was said that 
she had the courage of a man in a woman's heart. The 
nobles, thinking it a fine chance to rebel, with a child king 
and a foreign woman at the head of affairs, soon banded 
together. But Blanche acted with such decision and skill 
that she managed to detach the Count of Champagne 
(sham-pan') from their ranks, and, having secured him as 
an ally, got the better of the rest of her foes, with whom 
she made a treaty. 

It was at this time that the war of the Albigenses, be- 
gun so long before, was brought to an end, and in this 
same treaty it was settled that the main part of south- 
ern France — now known as the Languedoc (laNg-doc') — 
should belong to the king, the remainder coming to the 
royal house a little later by the marriage of one of the 
king's brothers with the noblewoman whose dowry it 
formed. The name of Languedoc (language of oc) is due 
to the fact that the people in southern France then used 
the word oc for " yes." Those in northern France used 
oil (o-eel'), the inhabitants of Germany y^ (ya), and those 
of Italy si (se). So, in talking of the various nations in 
those days, it was customary to speak of the people of 
si, and of those of ja, instead of Italians and Germans. 

Before ending her regency, Blanche also arranged an 
advantageous marriage for her son with Margaret of 
Provence, heiress of that province, and thus secured for 
the crown another great increase of territory. 

The personal rule of Louis IX. begins in 1236, when 
he came of age, but throughout his life he often con- 



av/v^Xi^ 



LOUIS IX. (1226-1270) 129 

suited his mother, and was always much influenced by her 
advice. Young as he was, Louis proved a very able king ; 
and although he was noted for his gentleness and piety, 
he was not lacking in spirit or decision; for when the 
Emperor of Germany once tried to take advantage of him, 
he announced very plainly that France was not so weak 
but that it could resent an insult ! 

The noblemen having again rebelled, — being upheld 
this time by the English, — Louis IX. met them in battle 
(Taillebourg, 1242) and, although the enemy were twenty 
against one, succeeded in winning a brilliant victory. 
Then, the Englishmen having retreated, the rebellious 
Frenchmen fell at the king's feet, humbly begging his 
pardon, which was immediately granted. 



XXXVI. THE SIXTH CRUSADE 

IN 1244 Louis fell very ill, and made a vow that if he 
recovered, he would go to the Holy Land on a pil- 
grimage and crusade. His mother and counselors vainly 
tried to dissuade him from undertaking this perilous expe- 
dition, which they dreaded on account of his delicate health ; 
but Louis insisted upon taking part in the sixth crusade, 
and persuaded many of his nobles to join him. Leaving 
his mother officially regent of the realm during his absence, 
he sailed from a port in southern France, accompanied by 
his wife, his brother, and most of his court. 

Believing that Jerusalem could best be taken by first 
conquering Egypt, Louis directed his course thither, and 



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I30 



OLD FRANCE 



landed at Dami-et'ta. The Saracens, drawn up on shore and 
waiting for him, were so amazed at the impetuosity of 
this king — who sprang overboard and waded ashore to 

encounter them 
sooner — that they 
turned and fled. 
Their panic enabled 
the crusaders to se- 
cure the city of 
Damietta, where 
they found great 
stores and much 
plunder. 

The French army 
remained here 
nearly five months 
without pursuing its 
advantage, thereby 
giving the enemy 
plenty of time to 
rally and make prep- 
arations for de- 
fense. Starting out 
then to capture 
Cairo, the French 
were hindered by 
the overflowing of the Nile, and at the Ford of Man- 
su'ra(i250) suffered a great defeat. Such was the num- 
ber of dead that the air became infected, and the army, 
vainly trying to retreat, was attacked by a plague. 

The king himself, weakened by illness, was overtaken 




Painting by Cabanel. 

St'. Louis at Mansura. 



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LOUIS IX. (1226-1270) 131 

by the enemy, who slew most of his followers and made 
him prisoner. He now began to bargain with the Sara- 
cens for his release, offering a large sum to free his men 
at arms, and the town of Damietta for his own ransom. 

While these negotiations were taking place. Queen Mar- 
garet had remained in Damietta, where the news of her 
husband's defeat and captivity reached her just as she 
had given birth to a little prince. Fearing lest the enemy 
might take possession of the city before she was able to 
leave it, she called an aged knight to her bedside, and bade 
him keep guard over her, saying, " Sir knight, I request 
on the oath you have sworn, that, should the Saracens storm 
this town and take it, you will cut off my head before you 
will allow them to seize my person." The loyal knight 
simply answered, "Madam, I had already decided to do 
so." He kept guard over her so faithfully that no harm 
came to her. 

After recovering his freedom, Louis IX. embarked 
with the remnant of his army for the maritime cities 
in the Holy Land, which he now placed in a good state 
of defense. There he remained four years, doing all 
he could to protect the Christians in the East, although 
his mother kept constantly writing, begging him to come 
home. 

During his absence, Queen Blanche had many troubles 
to contend against. Not only were the noblemen restive, 
but the peasants, hearing that their beloved king was in 
danger, took it into their heads to fly to his rescue. 
Forming what is known as the "Crusade of the Shep- 
herds," they started out without means, and without any 
knowledge of the difficulties of the journey. Although 



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132 OLD FRANCE 

Queen Blanche took prompt measures to stop them, she 
succeeded only after great numbers had perished. 

Only the news of Queen Blanche's death could deter- 
mine Louis to leave Palestine. On his way home his ship 
ran against a rock, and it seemed for a while as if all on 
board would perish. The king was urged to leave the 
vessel with his family, but nobly replied that the lives of 
the five hundred people with him were as precious in the 
sight of the Lord as his own, and that if he left, a panic 
would surely seize the remainder of the passengers, while 
if he remained everything would be done to save them all. 
Thanks to his steadfastness, the ship was saved from its 
perilous position, and all on board were rescued. 

During another storm, which threatened to sink the 
vessel, Queen Margaret, who was as brave as her husband, 
was asked whether the royal children should be awakened, 
and answered firmly, " No, let them go to God sleep- 
ing." In spite of these and many other perils, the royal 
family reached home safely, where the king now turned all 
his attention to governing his kingdom in the wisest way. 



XXXVIL THE REIGN OF LOUIS IX. 

LOUIS IX. is noted for his love of justice. He abol- 
ished trial by combat, and arranged that any person 
not satisfied with the decree of the superior courts could 
appeal to him. Some of these cases were tried by this 
king himself, who often sat under a great oak tree in the 
forest of Vincennes (vin-senz'), just outside of Paris, so 
that the poor and humble could approach him without 



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LOUIS IX. (1226-1270) 133 

being intimidated by his officers or by the sight of un- 
wonted splendor. When Louis could not settle the ques- 
tion himself, he referred it to an assembly of lawyers, 
known as the Parliament, where the evidence was carefully 
weighed. Louis also decreed that forty days should hence- 
forth elapse between the proclamation and the beginning 
of any private war. 

These laws, and many others which he made, are now 
known as the " Establishments of St. Louis.*' He ar- 
ranged that the royal coin should be received throughout 
France, while the money minted by his nobles could be 
used only within the bounds of their estates. As the 
" king's money " in Louis IX.'s reign was always of the 
same weight and value, and could be used all over, it was 
soon preferred to any other, so little by little the nobles 
ceased to coin any themselves. 

Louis is noted for his charity as well as for his justice. 
He founded several hospitals, and is famous for having 
built the first asylum for the blind (Quinze-Vingts, 1260), 
an institution which first afforded shelter to three hundred 
crusaders who had lost their sight in the Holy Land, where 
hot sand, glaring light, and lack of sufficient water for 
bathing often cause blindness. 

Louis also encouraged one of his counselors, Robert de 
Sorbon (de sor-b6N'), to leave his fortune to found a school 
for poor students in theology. This institution is still 
known as the " Sorbonne " (s5r-b6n'), and is now the center 
of public instruction in France. Even in the thirteenth 
century, twenty thousand pupils were educated there, and 
such learned men as Thomas Aqui'nas, Roger Bacon, and 
Alber'tus Magnus came there to study. Louis himself 

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134 



OLD FRANCE 



contributed about one thousand volumes for the library 
of this institution, a gift of great value in those days. 
Having purchased the crown of thorns, — the most 

precious of all Chris- 
tian relics, — Louis 
built, near his palace 
in Paris, a beautiful 
little shrine, known 
as the Holy Chapel 
(Sainte Chapelle), to 
serve as its place of 
deposit. 

During all these 
years Louis tried to 
live in peace with 
his neighbors. He 
made favorable trea- 
ties with Spain 
(1258) and with the 
English. In fact, 
such was his fair- 
ness that he insisted upon giving back to the English some 
lands to which he thought he had no claim. Because he 
deemed honesty the best policy, he was often chosen um- 
pire ill quarrels, not only among his fellow-countrymen, but 
even by the English barons, when they once got into diffi- 
culties with their monarch, Henry HI. Louis IX. decided 
in favor of the English king, but also insisted that this 
tttoharch should obey the Great Charter, and thus respect 
the rights of the barons. 

After spending sixteen years at home, devoting all his 







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LOUIS IX. (1226-1270) 135 

energies to the good of his people, Louis decided to go on 
a second crusade (the eighth, 1270), although by this time 
his health was so poor that he had to be carried on board 
the ship. Urged by one of his brothers, Louis directed 
his forces against Tu'nis, then in the hands of the Turks ; 
but he had no sooner landed, than he fell victim to the 
plague, which also killed many men in his army. After 
a very few days' illness, the dying king made his last 
arrangements, and after directing that he should be laid 
on a bed of ashes, so he might die as a penitent, he passed 
away, murmuring the word " Jerusalem.*' 

Many tributes have been paid to the beauty of Louis 
IX. 's character, the greatest of all being that of a famous 
French philosopher (Voltaire), who said, " It is not given 
man to carry virtue to a higher point." This king was 
canonized — made a saint — twelve years after his death, 
and is the only one in France's long list popularly known 
by the title of Saint. 



XXXVIIL EFFECT OF THE CRUSADES 

^T^HE eighth crusade was the last of its kind, for all 
J^ later crusades were undertaken merely for gain, and 
not at all in the old religious spirit. Although, with the 
exception of the first, none of these undertakings proved 
wholly successful, the crusades brought about many 
changes for the better in Europe. Not only did they ex- 
tend people's knowledge, but they furthered commerce, 
encouraged the navy, and introduced many new customs, 
new plants, and new goods in the kingdom. Mulberry 



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136 OLD FRANCE 

trees, velvet, silk, linen and cotton goods, windmills, and 
chickens are a few of the common things which France 
owes to the crusades. 

These expeditions also rid the country of many adven- 
turers, and of most of the undisciplined noblemen, so many 
of whom perished in foreign lands that very few were left 
to trouble the public peace. Besides, during the crusades, 
masters and men so often had to share the same hardships 
and perils, that they grew to depend more and more upon 
each other; and, distance lending enchantment to their 
homes, they learned to feel much more of a patriotic 
spirit. Finding, in time of peril, that unity meant strength, 
the nobles who engaged in the crusades gradually learned 
to submit to discipline, and instead of fighting independ- 
ently as before, now began to combine their efforts. 

It was during the crusades, and especially at the siege 
of Antioch, — where such hosts were assembled, — that 
distinctive signs on arms and banners were first seen. 
Then, too, family names first came into use, for while 
baptismal names might do at home, they were not suffi- 
cient to distinguish one John, for instance, from another. 
Thus, John, the son, was distinguished from John, the 
father, by being called John Johnson; and Thomas the 
swarthy, and a pale-faced namesake, were called, respec- 
tively, Thomas Brown and Thomas White. Some were 
known by the name of the province or town whence they 
had come, as Godfrey of Bouillon, and others by physical 
peculiarities, as James Cruikshank (the crooked-legged). 

In nearly all the crusades, France bore a prominent 
part. For that reason the account of the crusades is gen- 
erally considered part of her history, and France, besides, 



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PHILIP III. (1270-1285) 137 

can claim the honor of having given several kings to Jeru- 
salem. 

Philip III. — called the Bold, because when a mere child 
he boastfully announced that " he was not afraid of the 
Saracens" — returned home from the fatal eighth cru- 
sade, bringing with him the coffins of his father, wife, son, 
brother, and brother-in-law. His first royal act had been 
to make a treaty with the Bey of Tunis, whereby all 
Christian captives should be freed, and the war expenses 
paid. Then, considering it wiser to relinquish all further 
attempt to carry on his father's visionary plans, he returned 
home, to undertake the government of his realm. By the 
death of many relatives and subjects at Tunis, his crown 
estates had been greatly increased, and he soon found 
himself master, in his own right, of about half the land in 
all France. 

King Philip, having lost his first wife, married a second, 
but his barber and favorite, becoming jealous of this lady, 
soon accused her of practicing magic arts, and of having 
thereby caused the death of her young stepson. The king 
foolishly listened to these accusations, and the queen might 
actually have been burned as a witch, had she not been 
declared innocent by a " wise woman." 

Shortly after that, a package of letters was mysteriously 
brought to the king, who, after reading them, ordered the 
arrest and execution of the barber, who had hitherto had 
all his confidence. Although no one ever knew exactly 
what the papers contained, it was believed that they 
brought clear proof of this man's guilt, else he would not 
have been executed so promptly. 

Just before the eighth crusade, Charles of Anjou (an'joo, 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



138 OLD FRANCE 

or, aN-zhoo'), brother of Louis IX., led a French army to 
the conquest of Sicily and southeFn Italy, or Na'ples. A 
few years later his rule was interrupted by a terrible 
massacre of the French troops stationed in Sicily, and as 
this outbreak took .place just as the bells were ringing 
for evening prayers, it is known as the Sicilian Vespers 
(1282). Although a few Frenchmen tried to escape by 
assuming disguises, it is said they were all recognized by 
being asked to pronounce certain words, which none but 
Italian natives could utter correctly, thus making new use 
of an ancient test mentioned in Old Testament history.^ 

After this massacre, — which was laid to the charge of 
the Spaniards, who also wanted Sicily, — the French king 
prepared to make an expedition into Spain. But he was 
taken ill on the way, and died (1285) before he could carry 
out any of his ambitious plans. 



XXXIX.' THE BATTLE OF THE SPURS 

PHILIP IV., the Handsome, although only seventeen 
when he succeeded his father, Philip III., was of a 
cold, cruel, and calculating nature. After marrying an 
heiress, and thereby still further enlarging his estates, he 
began to covet the provinces of Guienne in the south of 
France, and Flanders in the north. 

Guienne belonged to Edward I., King of England, so a 
quarrel which arose between some French and English 
seamen offered the necessary pretext to begin a war (1294). 

^ See Story of the Chosen People, p. 105. 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



PHILIP IV. (1285-1314) 139 

Throughout this struggle, Philip continually sent help to 
the Scotch, who were then fighting against the English 
king, while Edward tried to pay him back by making 
trouble for him in Flanders. 

The King of France, however, was clever enough to at- 
tract the Count of Flanders to Paris, lock him up and 
keep him a prisoner until he was ready to do whatever 
his master wished. But, when released, the count tried 
to avenge himself for this treatment; so Philip, marching 
against him, besieged his city of Lille (leel). When it finally 
surrendered, the war came to an end, and it was arranged 
that while the main part of Flanders should henceforth 
belong to Philip, Guienne should remain in the hands of 
the English. 

To seal this peace, two royal marriages were agreed 
upon, one of them being between Edward's son and Philip's 
daughter Isabella. This marriage was, in time, to cause 
great trouble for France, but just then no one dreamed 
that it could ever make any difference to the country, for 
the king, besides his fair daughter, had three stalwart sons 
to continue his race. 

Philip IV. was well pleased with his new estates in 
Flanders, where the cities were rich and plenty reigned. 
Even the wives of common burghers dressed with such 
magnificence that the queen was heard to remark one 
day in a very jealous tone, ** Until now, I had thought 
that I was the only queen, but I see here more than six 
hundred ! " 

The customs and fashions of those days were very dif- 
ferent from what they are now ; we are told, for instance, 
that even at court parties it was customary for each gentle- 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



I40 OLD FRANCE 

man to eat off the plate of the lady beside him. Ladies 
then wore very high headdresses richly bejeweled, while 
the gentlemen were noticeable mainly on account of their 
shoes, with pointed toes which curved upward and were 
fastened to their knees by little gilt chains. 

Philip left a French governor in charge of his newly won 
estates, but this man was so grasping and tyrannical that 
he soon provoked a revolt, which broke out in the town 
of Bruges (broo'jez) one day just as matins were being 
rung. Before the bells had fairly ceased their chimes, 
three thousand Frenchmen lost their lives, so the " Matins 
of Bruges '* (1302) are considered as fatal as the " Sicilian 
Vespers." 

When the news of this massacre reached court, the 
French promptly armed to punish Flanders, and Philip set 
out at the head of large forces to meet the enemy at 
Courtrai (koor-tre', 1302). There the famous encounter 
known as the "Battle of the Spurs" was fought. The French 
knights, seeing nothing but common soldiers before them, 
spurred on in such eager haste to attack and destroy them, 
that they failed to notice a deep ditch lying between 
them and the foe. Their horses, plunging madly into 
this gap, threw disorder in the ranks, and the enemy, 
standing on the opposite bank, easily slew them while 
they were trying to scramble out of this awkward place. 
Such was the number of Flemings who suddenly appeared 
on all sides to take part in this fight, that Philip exclaimed 
in dismay : " Does it then rain Flemings ? " 

The Flemings were so proud of the victory won at 
Courtrai, that they hung up in the cathedral of that city 
seven thousand spurs taken from their dead foemen. 

uigitizea oy vjiOOQlC 



PHILIP IV. (1285-1314) 141 

There these trophies remained until the French came 
back, some time later, and avenged the death of their 
countrymen. 

Philip might have ended the war with Flanders sooner, 
had not some of his energies been diverted by a quarrel 
with the Pope. The Pope issued a " Bull " (a papal 
decree) to reprove the king, and Philip retorted with a 
proclamation in which he openly defied the Pope. 

Philip finally hired a band of adventurers to capture the 
Pope in his native city. They treated him cruelly and put 
him in prison, where he dared eat little for fear of being 
poisoned. Although he was released at the end of three 
days by the people, who rose up in his favor, he died soon 
after of shock. The next Pope deemed it his first duty to 
try to punish those who had tortured his predecessor ; but, 
shortly after he had done so, he died so suddenly that many 
people thought he was poisoned. 

A Pope was now elected, who settled at Avignon 
(a-veen-y6N', 1309). As this Pope and his successors 
lived in this city for nearly seventy years (until 1 376), the 
time they spent there is often known in Church history as 
the " Babylonian Captivity," which, as you know, lasted a 
similar length of time.^ 

In 1348, the county and city of Avignon were given to 
the Church, and formed part of the territory of the Holy 
See until 1791, when they were seized by the French, who 
have kept possession of them ever since. The palace 
where the Popes once lived can still be seen in the quaint 
old city, which, although in France, did not really belong 
to it for those four hundred and forty-three years. 

1 See Story of the Chosen People, p. 2o6. 



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142 



OLD FRANCE 



XL. DEATH OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR 

OWING to his many wars and sinful extravagance, 
Philip needed a great deal of money, which he tried 
to obtain in every way in his power. Besides imposing 
heavy taxes on the people, and despoiling the Jews, — 

whom he finally 
drove out of France, 
— he also clipped 
the coin, and minted 
money of such low 
value that he was 
dubbed "the False 
Coiner." 

All these ways 
not being sufficient 
to supply his vast de- 
mands, Philip next 
resolved to confis- 
cate the wealth of 
the Knights Tem- 
plar, many of whom. 
The Temple. ^f^^^ ^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^ 

dred years, had come to settle in France. Besides the 
castles they owned here and there in all parts of the coun- 
try, they were masters of a large part of the city of Paris, 
where they had a huge fortress known as " the Temple.'* 

Because they formed a secret society, and because the 
members of their order were pledged never to reveal what 
passed in their meetings, common people suspected them 
of horrible and impious ceremonies. All manner of crimes 




From an Old PriiU. 



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PHILIP IV. (1285-1314) 143 

were thus laid at their door, and although nothing could 
be proved against them, the king had them arrested in 
1307. 

To force the Templars to confess that they were guilty, 
they were subjected to awful tortures, after being weakened 
by long imprisonment. While on the rack, many of these 
poor sufferers acknowledged anything that was asked, 
but many of them took back their confessions as soon as 
they were released and had recovered their senses. These 
men were then condemned to be burned at the stake as 
perjurers and heretics. 

The Grand Master of the order, Molay', was kept in 
prison for several years, and then met the same fate. He 
showed great courage on this occasion, and died like a 
hero, singing hymns even when the flames arose around 
him. He is also said to have uttered an awful prophecy 
from the pyre, declaring that the Pope — who had per- 
mitted the arrest and execution of the Knights Tem- 
plar — would die within forty days, and King Philip 
within the year. Strange to relate, this prophecy came 
true. The Pope died while on a journey, within the given 
time ; and, before the year was ended, Philip, too, passed 
away, owing to a hunting accident. 

During his reign, Philip increased his estates by adding 
to the crown lands Flanders, Champagne, and the city of 
Lyons, which had hitherto been a free commune. Many 
important institutions also date back to the time of this 
king, among others the assembly known as the " States- 
General '* ( 1 302). This was composed of three divisions, — 
the nobles, the clergy, and the burghers, — forming the 
three estates or three classes of society. They were 

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144 OLD FRANCE 

called together mainly to help the king secure more money 
for his many needs. 

Philip IV. left three sons, who, in the course of the next 
fourteen years, came to the throne in turn ; they were the 
last of the direct Capetian line. The first of these princes 
was Louis X., the Quarrelsome. No sooner had Philip 
died, and this young prince succeeded him, than the 
nobles — still striving to recover some of their lost privi- 
leges — rebelled again. But the new king soon succeeded 
in quieting them. 

The people, having been overtaxed during his father's 
rule, also clamored for redress, so the king, not knowing 
how else to satisfy them, allowed them to persecute his 
father's minister of finance, who was accused of having 
robbed the country to enrich himself. This poor man was 
also charged with using magic arts to cause the king's 
death, and for that reason was arrested and hanged. 

Being in constant need of money, yet not wishing to 
enrage his people any further by imposing new taxes, 
Louis X. allowed serfs on his estates to buy back their 
freedom, and thus, while the king's needs were relieved, 
the number of s'erfs in France was greatly diminished. 

Although strong and healthy, Louis X. died young, 
having taken a drink of very cold water after overheating 
himself at a game of tennis. During his brief final illness, 
this king arranged that his children should be placed in 
the care of his brother Philip, who should be regent of the 
realm for the next eighteen years. But Louis's only son 
(John L) having died shortly after this, in infancy, Philip 
promptly claimed the crown for himself, in preference to his 
little niece, declaring only males could occupy the throne. 

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CHARLES IV. (1322-1328) 145 

Although women were allowed to inherit other estates in 
France, the lawyers — who all sided with the regent, 
Philip — agreed to this, and enforced what is known as the 
" Sal'ic Law,** whereby women could not claim the crown 
of France. 

Philip v., the Long, thus succeeded his elder brother. 
During his brief reign of six years, he effected many 
wise reforms, not only in government and in finance, but 
also in the laws of the country. It happened, however, 
that the very law which he had so eagerly revived to de- 
prive his niece of the throne, was enforced by his younger 
brother Charles when Philip died, leaving daughters but 
no son. ' 

XLL THE BEGINNING OF THE HUNDRED 
YEARS* WAR 

AS we have seen, by the Salic Law the crown finally 
came to the third and last of Philip IV. *s sons, 
Charles IV., who is also known by the surname of the 
Handsome. He reigned only six years, but during that 
time showed great interest in learning, and in the revival 
of poetry. In fact, he is said to have established poetical 
tournaments in the south, where — as all the prizes offered 
were garlands of fresh flowers — they became famous as 
"Floral Games," and were patronized by knights, fair 
ladies, poets, and painters for many years. 

Charles IV. died in 1328, leaving only a daughter to 
claim the succession, and thus for the third time in four- 
teen years the Salic Law was called into play. But this 
time the crown of France had to pass out of the direct 

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146 OLD FRANCE 

Capetian line to a cousin of the king, the son of Philip IV. *s 
brother (see pages 363, 364). Because this prince belongs 
to the Valois (va-lwa') branch of the Capetian family, he 
and his six successors are often called the "Valois Kings." 
They come immediately after the fifteen direct Capetian 
rulers, who, as we have seen, governed France from 987 
to 1328. 

But the new king, Philip VI., did not come to the throne 
unchallenged, for the crown was also claimed by Edward 
III., King of England, whose mother, Isabella, was a 
sister of the late 'kings. He said that even if a woman 
could not inherit in France, there was no reason why she 
could not transmit the crown to her son. A third claim- 
ant of the crown, the husband of Louis X.*s daughter, 
also appeared, boasting, moreover, of being himself a de- 
scendant of Philip III. As the claims of two of these 
candidates were derived, in part at least, from women, 
they were soon set aside, and the throne definitely assigned 
to Philip VI., the next in the line of males. It was also 
decided that the crown should always remain in the hands 
of a Frenchrnan, and never by marriage, or otherwise, pass 
into the possession of a foreigner. 

The two other candidates were sorely disappointed. 
Edward III., still a minor, submitted, but with ill grace, 
while the other candidate had to be bribed by the gift of 
the kingdom of Navarre (na-var'), to renounce all rights to 
the French crown and to the provinces which he claimed 
in that country in his wife's name. 

Ever since the Norman Conquest (1066), there had been 

sreat rivalry between France and England, and many 

already war had broken out. This rivalry now be- 

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PHILIP VI. (1328-1350) 147 

came more marked than ever, as we enter the period which 
is known in history as " the Hundred Years' War," although 
it really covers one hundred and sixteen years (1337-1453). 

The Flemings had submitted reluctantly to French rule, 
and they hastened to take advantage of a change of 
dynasty to rebel, being upheld in this bad conduct by 
the English. But as the new French king was a brave 
and energetic man, he immediately set forth, and, by win- 
ning a battle (Cassel, 1328), compelled the Flemish to obey 
him. 

All the advantage won by this victory was, however, 
lost by an unwise decree, in which he forbade these people 
to purchase wool from the English. Now, as the Flemish 
lived mostly by weaving, and depended on England for 
their supply of raw material, this decree threatened to 
ruin them, so they rose up again in 1336, led by James 
van Ar'teveld. This leader not only begged Edward III. 
of England to come to his aid, but also advised him to as- 
sume the title of King of France, and assert his claim to 
the throne, arms in hand. 

Edward III., whose pride had been hurt because he had 
been compelled to do homage to Philip VI. for his French 
estates, and who, besides, owed a grudge to France for 
helping the Scots, was just hesitating whether to follow 
this welcome advice or not, when a French knight, who 
had taken refuge at his court, brought matters to a climax. 

This knight, it seems, had tried to win a French estate 
by fraud, had been found guilty, and had avoided death 
only by a clever escape from prison. Being a bitter and 
outspoken enemy of Philip VI., — who had prosecuted him, 
— he soon made friends at the English court. There, at a 



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148 OLD FRANCE 

banquet one day, he had a heron publicly served to the 
king. At that time, such a proceeding was considered 
equivalent to a charge of cowardice, so every one watched 
eagerly to see what effect the taunt would produce. Spring- 
ing to his feet, Edward III. — who was anything but timid 
— stretched out his right hand over the symbolical bird, 
and then and there took a solemn oath to begin war against 
France. 

The first serious encounter in the Hundred Years' War 
was the naval battle of Sluis(slois, 1340), where the French 
fleet was destroyed ; but as neither country was then ready 
to continue hostilities, a truce was soon made. It is said 
that no one at first dared to announce this terrible defeat to 
the French king, and that the court fool broke the news 
by remarking, " Well ! the English are great cowards ! " 
When Philip asked why, the man rejoined, " Because they 
did not dare jump boldly into the sea, at Sluis, like our 
brave French and Normans ! '* 



XLII. THE SIEGE OF CALAIS 

NOT long after this, the province of Brittany was 
claimed by two parties, each headed by a woman 
bearing the name of Joan. The King of France siding with 
one faction, Edward III. naturally took the part of the 
other. In the ** War of the Two Joans,** as this feud is 
called, the French and English were therefore again oppo- 
nents, and it was nearly twenty-five years before the quarrel 
was definitely settled. 

During this struggle, Edward III. once brought his 



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PHILIP VI. (1328 1350) 149 

troops within a few miles of Paris ; but, not daring to at- 
tack, he soon retreated toward the northwest. He had 
just crossed the Somme(s6m) River, when the French army 
overtook him near the village of Cr^cy (era-see'), where a 
famous battle was fought (1346). 

During this encounter, the Black Prince, Edward's fif- 
teen-year-old son, won his spurs, and the English proved 
victorious, although their troops were only about one third 
as numerous as those of the French. The French defeat 
on this occasion was due to the fatigue of the soldiers, who 
had marched on without rest to overtake the enemy ; to 
the fact that the hired bowmen allowed their bowstrings 
to get wet ; to the favorable position occupied by the Eng- 
lish, who had the sun behind them, while it shone full in 
the faces of their opponents ; and to the total lack of disci- 
pline and restraint in the French ranks. 

Finding their bowmen useless, the French knights ac- 
tually spurred over them in their eagerness to reach the 
enemy. But their headlong courage proved of no avail, 
for the English bowmen shot well, and some of the French 
horses, hearing for the first time the reports of English 
cannon, soon became unmanageable. The battle of Cr^cy 
is said to have been the first where cannon were used, 
although gunpowder had been known for some time. 

Many French knights greatly distinguished themselves 
by their reckless courage on this day. As for the blind 
King of Bohe'mia, who had accompanied the French army, 
he no sooner learned that his brave son had perished,, than 
he bade his servants lead him into the very thickest of the 
battle, so that he might strike a blow before he died. Ty- 
ing the horses' bridles together, so that nothing could part 

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PHILIP VI. (1328-1350) 151 

them, these men led the heroic old monarch into the fray, 
and died there with him. Touched by this deed, the Black 
Prince adopted the King of Bohemia's motto and crest as 
his own ; that is why, ever since then, the Prince of Wales's 
crest has been three ostrich plumes with the German motto 
{Ich dien) " I serve." 

The English triumph at Cr6cy was great, and the French 
loss was enormous. King Philip had to be dragged away 
from the battlefield almost by force. Late at night, he 
knocked at the gate of a neighboring castle, asking admit- 
tance, and when the warden suspiciously inquired, " Who 
goes there ? " sadly answered, " It is the unfortunate King 
of France ; open and admit him ! " 

The English, having won such a signal victory at Cr6cy, 
now passed on to besiege the town of Calais (cal 'a, or, ca-lg'), 
which lies directly opposite Do'ver, where the Channel is 
narrowest, and which thus promised the best foothold for 
them in France. But this city was so well fortified and so 
bravely defended, that although no help reached its inhab- 
itants, the King of England had to wait nine long months 
until famine compelled them to surrender. 

Exasperated by this long resistance, Edward declared he 
would spare the people only on condition that six of the 
most prominent burghers came to him, barefooted, clad in 
their shirts, with halters around their necks, ready to be 
hanged as scapegoats for the sins of their fellow-citizens. 
When this became known to the governor of Calais, he 
thought that all was lost ; but a brave citizen soon volun- 
teered to be the first of the victims, and his generous de- 
votion Was immediately imitated by five other prominent 
citizens. When these six gaunt burghers appeared before 

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152 



OLD FRANCE 



King Edward, scantily clad and humbly bearing the keys 
of the city, he harshly ordered them executed ; but his wife 
Philippa, more merciful than he, pleaded so eloquently 
with him for their release, that he finally consented to 
forgive them (1347). A fine monument now stands in 




JHainting by Picot. 



The Siege of Calais. 



Calais, representing the starving burghers, whose memory 
is justly kept very green in France, and particularly in 
their native city. 

The detailed story of the battle of Crecy, of the siege of 
Calais, and of the heroism of its six burghers, has been ad- 
mirably told by a French historian named Froissart, who 

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PHILIP VI. (1328-1350) 153 

lived at that time, and vividly described these stirring scenes. 
This is one of the French classics which has been translated 
into English, and which all young people greatly enjoy. 

By order of Edward III., the French inhabitants were 
all driven out of Calais and replaced by Englishmen, who 
kept this port for more than two hundred years, in spite 
of all the efforts the French made to recover possession of 
it. To show they meant to retain it forever, the English 
even placed this taunting rhyme above the city gate : — 

** When lead and iron swim like wood, 
A siege of Calais may be good.^^ 

Owing to the appearance of a terrible pestilence, known 
as the Black Death, the war came to an abrupt pause in 
1348. This disease, which came from the East, swept 
over all Europe, carrying away more than one third of the 
population ; and it was because both the French and the 
English were so busy burying their dead, that they con- 
cluded a seven years' truce, during which Philip VI. man- 
fully tried to bring order in his realm. 

The death of so many of his subjects, added to heavy 
war taxes, had sorely impoverished France ; so, to secure 
funds, the king resorted to the old means of altering the 
coin. Then, finding that insufficient, he decreed that all 
the salt used in his realm should be bought from the gov- 
ernment, and that each family should be required to 
purchase a certain amount every year. This salt tax 
(gabelle) was soon to prove a sore burden to the French, 
a burden which became more and more galling as time 
went on. 

Philip VI.'s domains were largely increased by the pur- 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



154 OLD FRANCE 

chase of Dauphin6 (do-fee-na'), a province in the south- 
eastern part of France. This land was bought by the 
king (1349) for his grandson Charles, who was therefore 
given the title of " Dau'phin." About one year after this, 
Philip VI. died (1350), leaving his son John II. to continue 
the terrible Hundred Years' War. Thus the Dauphin 
Charles, John's eldest son, became heir to the throne. 
When, in his turn, he became King Charles V., he gave 
the title of Dauphin to his eldest son, and decreed that 
the name should always thereafter be borne by the heir 
to the French throne. 



XLIII. THE BATTLE OF POITIERS 

KING JOHN was called John II. in deference to the 
little son of Louis X., who reigned only ten days, 
but who nevertheless figures in the list of kings of France 
as John I. John 11. was thirty-one years old, but, hav- 
ing received a more romantic than useful education, was 
hardly prepared to make a good king. Still, people said 
he was so generous, so impetuous, and meant so well, that 
he was known as John the Good.^ 

He began his reign, however, by an act of great injus- 
tice, for he slew one of his father's ministers on mere sus- 
picion of treachery. Then, not finding sufficient funds in 
the royal treasury, he, too, altered the coin, and finally 
summoned the States-General to impose new taxes upon 
his people. 

On this occasion, the States-General first proposed that 
the nobles, who had hitherto paid no taxes, should pay 

uigitizea oy vjiOOQlC 



JOHN II. (135^^1364) 15s 

their share. This suggestion proved so unwelcome to the 
lords, that many of them joined Charles the Bad, of Na- 
varre, who, although his father had formally renounced 
all claims to the crown of France, was doing all he could 
to win adherents in the country. 

Thus, you see, when John, the second Valois king, came 
to the throne of France, it was claimed also by Edward 
III. of England and by Charles of Navarre. Charles, 
who had married the king's daughter, and made friends 
with the Dauphin, became daily more insolent and daring, 
until he actually murdered the new general in chief ap- 
pointed by John, under pretext that this man was a 
foreigner and had no right to command French troops ! 
Such a high-handed deed naturally angered the monarch, 
who might have taken his revenge then and there, had not 
the women of the family interfered, and patched up zr 
peace. 

Before long, Charles was suspected of treacherously 
preparing to join the English. So the king surprised him 
one day when he was secretly dining with the Dauphin, 
and after killing some of his followers, clapped him in 
prison. Hearing of this, the friends of Charles the Bad 
openly joined the English, with whom France resumed 
war, for the seven years* truce had just come to an end. 

During these seven years, although the kings themselves 
did not fight, several armed duels had taken place between 
knights of the two nations. The most famous of these 
encounters is the " Battle of the Thirty," waged between 
equal numbers of French and English nobles. In the 
midst of the fray, Beaumanoir (bo-ma-nwar'), leader of the 
French, wounded and almost dying of thirst, faltered and 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



156 OLD FRANCE 

was about to surrender, but one of his companions, see- 
ing his plight, cried out, ** Drink your own blood, Beau- 
manoir, and your thirst will be quenched ! " This Spar- 
tan encouragement so steeled the leader's arm, that he 
fought on until victory was secure. 

When war broke out again, the English soldiers swept 
over the northern provinces, cleverly avoiding the battle 
which John was so eager to wage. When the northwestern 
part of the country had been laid waste, the English, under 
the leadership of the Prince of Wales, invaded southern 
France and began to bum and plunder there also. 

This decided John to summon all the members of his 
recently instituted *' Order of the Star," who pledged their 
word to die or be taken prisoners, but never to retreat. 
He also called all the other nobles, and when he found 
himself at the head of a magnificent army, marched boldly 
southward to attack the English forces, which were only 
about one tenth as large as his own. 

The two armies met at Poitiers (1356), where the Prince 
of Wales proposed a peaceful settling of the quarrel ; but 
the French insisted on such humiliating conditions, that 
he rejected them with scorn, and prepared to sell his life as 
dearly as possible. Although outnumbered, the English 
had the advantage in position ; so they cleverly made the 
best of this, and succeeded in repelling the French onslaught. 
The ground would permit only a small part of the French 
to attack them at once. When the English suddenly 
swept down on the rest of the army, a panic ensued, and 
the day ended in a disastrous rout in which many French- 
men lost their lives. 

Three of the French princes, young and inexperienced 



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Drawing by Raff el. C 1 5 7 >) 

King John and his Son Philip at Poitiers. 



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158 OLD FRANCE 

men, fled with their attendants, — an example speedily 
followed by the bulk of the army. In fact, only a small 
number remained true to the king, who, too proud to re- 
treat, hewed right and left like a giant, piling up corpses 
around him until all his followers were either slain or 
taken prisoners. 

Throughout this battle, his fourteen-year-old son, 
Philip, stood close beside him, and helped him by keeping a 
sharp lookout, and by constantly warning him on which side 
to turn to fend off the most threatening blows. But, in 
spite of John's valor, and of his son's devotion, the battle 
of Poitiers was lost, and the king finally was obliged to 
surrender his sword to a knight, who conducted him im- 
mediately to the Prince of Wales's tent. There he was 
treated with the utmost courtesy, the Prince even waiting 
upon him at table in person, just as if he had been Eng- 
land's honored guest, and not her prisoner. 

Meantime, the English host pursued the fugitives, 
securing more prisoners than their army numbered sol- 
diers. These were, as a rule, released upon parole, only 
a few of the most important being detained until their ran- 
soms could be paid. Among the latter were the king and 
his young son Philip, who, in that day's fighting, earned 
the nickname of " the Bold," by which he is well known. 
The royal prisoners were conveyed to London, where they 
made a triumphal entrance. We are told the Prince of 
Wales had his royal captive ride a fine war horse, while he 
escorted him, mounted on a mere pony. During John's 
sojourn of four years in England, he was entertained more 
as a guest than as a prisoner. 



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JOHN II. (1350-1364) 159 

XLIV. SEVEN YEARS OF MISERY (i 356-1 363) 

ONCE before, in the days of Louis IX., a French king 
had fallen into the hands of the enemy, but in 
those days France was well governed, and the king paid 
his own ransom (see page 131). Now, while King John 
was a captive, a large part of the country had been laid 
waste, the people were in sore straits, and the Dauphin 
Charles, who had fled from the field of battle, was too 
young and inexperienced to steer the ship of state well. 

While each of the nobles released on parole hastened 
home to wring out of his dependents money enough to 
pay his ransom, the Dauphin went on to Paris, where he 
hurriedly called the States-General. But, when this body 
met, it declared firmly that it would help the Dauphin 
only on condition that he should promise to dismiss his 
father's ministers, — who had proved unwise, — to follow 
the advice of the States-General, and to release Charles 
the Bad from prison. 

These conditions seemed too exacting to Prince Charles, 
who set out on a journey, leaving things unsettled, — a state 
of affairs which proved galling in the extreme to the peas- 
ants. They were generally called Jacques Bonhomme 
(zhak bo-nom'), — just as Confederate soldiers in the 
American Civil War were called Johnnies. Having been 
robbed of everything to pay the ransoms of the nobles 
taken at Poitiers, they were now goaded to rebel.* Armed 
with scythes and pitchforks, they banded together, attacked 
the castles, and plundered and burned them, after torturing 
and sldying the women and children left alone in many 
cases to guard them. 



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i6o OLD FRANCE 

This revolt of the peasants, known as the Jacquerie 
(zhak-ree'), lasted about six weeks, and added greatly to 
the horrors and suffering of that time. But finally the 
nobles joined forces, vigorously attacked the peasant mob, 
and after butchering about seven thousand of the rebels, 
so frightened the remainder that they ceased to fight. 

Meanwhile the States-General met again. Their leaders 
were Marcel', provost of the Paris merchants, and the 
Bishop of Laon, (laN) — two men who were well-known 
patriots, and by their wise conduct had won immense 
popularity. This time the Dauphin, duly awed, granted 
the States-General all they asked, giving them, among 
other privileges, the right to assemble whenever they 
pleased, without being called by the king. But although 
lavish of promises, he proved so slow in executing them, 
that members of the States-General resorted to violence. 
The King of Navarre was rescued from prison by his 
friends, and Marcel, at the head of a deputation, actually 
forced his way into the palace, and there, in the Dauphin's 
presence, slew two of the objectionable ministers. 

The young prince, terrified by this violence, again 
promised all the people wished, donned a red and blue 
cap, — the badge of the Paris burghers, — and allowed 
himself to be taken to the city hall and exhibited in this 
guise to the excited mob. It is because Marcel thus 
defended the people's rights, that his equestrian statue 
now graces one of the courts of the new city hall (H6tel 
de Ville), erected on the site of the one to which he con- 
ducted the Dauphin on this occasion. 

Shortly after this, having again joined the nobles, — 
who were jealous of Marcel and of the burgher class 



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JOHN II. (1350-1364) 161 

which he headed, — the Dauphin threatened to besiege 
Paris and put Marcel to death. Thus hard pressed, Mar- 
cel offered to sujrrender the city to Charles the Bad, by 
unlocking one of the city gates for him one night. He was, 
however, surprised, keys in hand, by another city magis- 
trate, who, raising his ax, felled him to the ground. 

The Parisians, who were very loyal as a rule, and who kept 
a wax taper burning night and day in Notre Dame until 
John's return, were awed by the danger they had just es- 
caped. They now invited the Dauphin to return to the 
city, and loyally helped him fight the King of Navarre, 
who, at the head of hosts of disbanded soldiers, swept 
over the surrounding country, laying everything waste. 

These stray soldiers were known as the Great Com- 
panies, and the country people were so afraid of them 
that they actually built underground refuges, where they 
remained in hiding with their families and cattle as long 
as any of these robbers were in sight. The Dauphin, 
pitying the sufferings of the people, was about to lead 
an army against the King of Navarre and these Great 
Companies, when the women of both families again inter- 
fered, and the two princes patched up another peace 

(1359). 

The following year, weary of exile, John signed a treaty 
with Edward, promising him the western half of France 
and four million gold crowns (coins) as his ransom. But, 
as France refused to ratify this humiliating document, the 
English king again invaded the unhappy country, plunder- 
ing and burning everywhere. 

This terrible state of affairs was ended by the treaty of 
Bretigny (brS-teen-yee', 1360), whereby Edward gave up 

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i62 OLD FRANCE 

all claim to the crown of France, receiving instead the 
southwest quarter of France (see third map, page 163) and 
a ransom of three million gold crowns. But it is said that 
the first installment of this ransom had to be raised by 
selling a little princess — the king's daughter — to the 
Visconti (vees-con'tee) family in Milan, who supplied the 
necessary sum in exchange for the honor of being con- 
nected by marriage with the royal family. 

All these matters having been satisfactorily arranged, 
John left two of his sons as hostages in the hands of the 
English, and came home. But the people on the lands he 
had ceded to England were very unhappy, many of them 
insisting that the king had no right whatever to dispose of 
them, and that they were and would always remain French- 
men. In fact, the mayor of La Rochelle (ro-shgl') only 
expressed the general sentiment when he said, " We shall 
submit to the English with our lips, but never with our 
hearts !'* 

Their sorrow and the general misery were now increased 
by a reappearance of the plague, which for the next three 
years again swept all over the French provinces. Even 
princes fell victims to it this time, and the whole ducal 
family of Burgundy having been carried away by it, this 
vast province unexpectedly reverted to the crown. King 
John, mindful of the bravery his son Philip the^Bold had 
shown at the battle of Poitiers, now bestowed Burgundy 
upon him, and he thus became head of the second ducal 
family of Burgundy, just as Robert's brother (see page 
104) had been founder of the first. But this disposal 
of Burgundy greatly angered Charles of Navarre, who 
claimed that province in his mother's name. 



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ENGLISH POSSESSIONS IN FRANCE, H80-litJl> 

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l64 OLD FRANCE 

XLV. THE BRAVE DU GUESCLIN 

THE Great Companies, which had long proved very 
troublesome, were now sent to Italy, while the king 
went to visit the Pope at Avignon, where he announced 
his intention soon to set out on a new crusade. Then, 
hoping to induce the King of England either to join him, 
or to sign a treaty promising not to attack France during 
his absence, John was preparing to visit England a 
second time, when he learned that one of his sons, who 
had been sent there as a hostage, had escaped. 

Chivalrously declaring, "If good faith were banished 
from the rest of the world, it ought still to be found in the 
hearts of kings ! '* the French monarch immediately pro- 
ceeded to London (1364), where he was again received 
with gre^t rejoicings. But before negotiations could be 
brought to an end, John fell seriously ill, and died abroad, 
leaving the throne to his son Charles V. 

The king who now came to the throne, had, as we have 
seen, served as regent during his father's captivity in Eng- 
land, and therefore already had some experience. Still, 
his reputation was not of the kind to promise a very favor- 
able reign, for he had fled at Poitiers, and was therefore 
despised as a coward by the nobles; he had quarreled 
with the burghers of Paris, who all hated him ; and as for 
the peasants, they ascribed to his bad management many 
of the troubles under which they were groaning. Thus 
all three classes of society may be said to have been 
banded against him, when he mounted the throne at his 
father's early death. 

Although homely, sickly, and never much of a warrior 

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CHARLES V. (1364-1380) 



165 



himself, Charles V. soon proved that he knew how to 
choose the best men to fight for him ; and he made such 
good use of his intellectual gifts, — which were of a high 
order, — that he earned the surname of "the Wise.'* 

The most famous of all his generals was the brave Du 
Guesclin(ge-klSN'), who, besides being brave did not scorn 




Drawing by Du Semane, 

Du Guesclin rides to the Tournament. 

to make use of strategy or even fraud to get the better of 
a foe. Small and ugly, but very stout of heart, Du Gues- 
clin, when a mere boy, once entreated his father to take 
him to a tournament. The father having scornfully refused, 
the lad rode off after him on a sorry farm nag, and 
waited near the lists until a wounded knight passed out. 
Du Guesclin, then following this lord to his tent, begged so 
earnestly for the loan of his horse and armor, that he 



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l66 OLD FRANCE 

obtained what he wished. With visor down, the stripling 
then entered the lists, where he challenged and defeated 
all present, including his own father, to whom, however, 
he showed due filial respect as soon as he recognized 
him. 

In the beginning of Charles V.*s reign, Du Guesclin, 
called to fight the troops of Navarre, went off gayly, promis- 
ing the king a victory as a coronation present. Still, the 
young warrior, however brave, was very far from being 
sentimental : when his aunt hysterically implored him to 
come and kiss her ere he rode forth to his death, he 
bluntly cried, " Bah, go home and kiss your husband, but 
have dinner ready by the time I get back, for I shall be 
very hungry ! " 

The promise Du Guesclin had made to the king was 
duly kept, for he captured the city of Mantes from the 
forces of Navarre (1364), just in time to permit the news 
of this victory to reach Rheims, on the very day the king 
was anointed. Du Guesclin followed up this exploit by 
winning another victory; but in his next great battle 
(at Auray), he was less fortunate, for he then fell into the 
hands of his foes, and was detained prisoner until his ran- 
som could be paid by the king. 

This battle was soon followed by two treaties, one end- 
ing the Breton war, which had lasted about twenty-five 
years, and the other forcing Charles of Navarre to give up 
forever all claim to the French crown. But, although two 
of her troubles were thus ended, poor France was still 
suffering sorely from another, the constant and destructive 
raids of the Great Companies. 

Charles, the clever planner, now determined to send 



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CHARLES V. (1364-1380) 167 

these forces into Spain, to fight a king there who had 
cruelly murdered his French wife; so Du Guesclin was 
ransomed and sent off at the head of this expedition. In 
Spain, these French troops again came face to face with 
their old enemies, the English, who of course sided with the 
foe. Once more Du Guesclin was made a prisoner. Seeing 
that the English did not set any ransom for his release, he 
artfully remarked, in the presence of the Prince of Wales, 
that every one must consider him the greatest knight in 
the world, as the English dared not let him go. 

Stung by this taunt, the Prince of Wales immediately 
bade him name his own ransom, and when Du Guesclin 
fixed a very large sum, wonderingly inquired how he ex- 
pected it would ever be paid. The French hero haughtily 
replied that the King of Spain, in whose behalf he had 
been fighting, would doubtless pay half, and the King of 
France the remainder, adding confidently that there was 
no woman or maid in France who would not gladly spin a 
distaff for his ransom. 

His confidence was justified, for the ransom was promptly 
paid, and Du Guesclin, free once more, could resume fight- 
ing. In his next encounter with the foe he won a brilliant 
victory, thereby proving that the sacrifices made for him 
had not been in vain. 

XLVI. THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF CHARLES V. 

MEANTIME, the French king had been sitting quietly 
at home, managing finances and government so 
cleverly that the country was in a far more prosperous 
condition than it had been for many years. Instead of 

O. F. — II 

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i68 OLD FRANCE 

oppressing his people by constantly asking for more funds, 
this ruler actually remitted a large part of the taxes they 
had hitherto paid, so as to enable them to strengthen the 
walls of their cities, and equip themselves properly. Thus, 
you see, he was quietly preparing to renew the old conflict 
with England, but this time with far better chances of 
success. 

His opponent, Edward III., less prudent than he, was 
meanwhile devoting most of his energies to pleasure, so 
when Charles finally used the complaints of the south- 
ern lords as a basis for renewing the war, England 
was ill prepared to meet it. Charles V. began by sending 
a messenger to the Prince of Wales, summoning him to 
appear in Paris, to answer the charges made by the discon- 
tented lords. To this summons the fighting English Prince 
grimly retorted that he would certainly come, but with a 
helmet on his head and escorted by a force of sixty thou- 
sand men ! 

Undismayed by this answer, the King of France confis- 
cated Guienne, where, helped by all those who were weary 
of English rule, he soon made great headway. The Eng- 
lish, incensed by the falling away of many whom they had 
hitherto deemed , friends, now became suspicious and re- 
vengeful, treating certain towns with such cruelty, that 
they daily lost further ground in the country. 

Throughout this campaign the French made use of every 
device, often resorting to such trickery, for instance, as 
won back the city of La Rochelle, where the mayor was 
secretly in favor of the French. One day, when the Eng- 
lish governor was dining with the mayor, a courier brought 
a letter from the English king. As warriors in those days 



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CHARLES V. (1364-1380) 169 

considered it beneath their dignity to know how to read, 
the governor simply handed the letter over to the mayor, 
begging him to read it aloud. Gravely pretending to com- 
ply, instead of a warning to be on their guard as treachery 
was afloat, the mayor read an order for the English garri- 
son to join the citizen troops and hold a grand drill and 
review on the market place on the morrow. The unsus- 
pecting English, therefore, deserted the fort, and were 
drilling down on the square, when Du Guesclin, obeying a 
secret signal from the mayor, suddenly entered and seized 
the fortress, thus recovering possession of La Rochelle for 
the French. 

Although beaten in the south, and finally forced to leave 
Guienne, the English were far from discouraged. Three 
armies were sent one after another to invade France and 
reconquer what had been lost, although, owing to ill-health, 
the Prince of Wales could no longer lead them. 

Charles V., knowing his towns were too well fortified 
and provisioned to yield easily, calmly allowed these armies 
to exhaust themselves by sweeping aimlessly over the de- 
serted country, where, when they had burned villages and 
harvests, nothing remained for them to live upon. The 
French forces cut off stragglers and small bodies of the foe, 
but refused to fight any great battles, causing Edward III. 
to exclaim, ** Never king armed himself so little, yet never 
man gave me so much to do! " 

By these tactics, in which he was ably seconded by his 
generals, Charles V. succeeded in regaining all of France, 
save Calais, Bordeaux (bor-do'), and three other cities on 
the coast. You see, these were very hard times for the 
English, for King Edward was old, the Prince of Wales 

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OLD FRANCE 



slowly dying, and the heir to the throne was only a child, 
unfit to take up the burden of the English government 
and continue the Hundred Years' War. 

Du Guesclin, the man who had done so much for France, 
was, however, not long to survive his old opponent, the 

Prince of Wales. The 
year after the latter's 
death, Du Guesclin was 
besieging a strongly 
fortified castle which 
had promised to sur- 
render to him at a 
certain date if not re- 
lieved, when he felt his 
end draw near. 

He gave his sword to 
a friend, saying : ** It 
has aided me to conquer 
the enemies of my king. 
... I hand it over to 
you, protesting that I 
have never betrayed the 
honor that the king did me when he intrusted it to my 
keeping." Then this man, who was far in advance of his 
times in many respects, added, "Forget not, in what- 
ever land you may be engaged in war, that people of the 
Church, women, and children are not your enemies." 
These were very different principles from those professed 
by most soldiers of his day, when the taking of a town or 
castle was only too often the signal for a hideous massacre, 
not even babes at the breast being spared. 




Statue of Du Guesclin, at Dinan. 



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CHARLES V. (1364-1380) 171 

Du Guesclin had just breathed his last, when the armistice 
ended, and the English governor appeared with the keys of 
the castle. It is said he firmly refused to hand them over to 
any one save Du Guesclin, on whose coffin he solemnly 
laid them with his own hands, thus faithfully keeping the 
promise he had made. 

Charles V. was the next to die, — two months after the 
general who had done him such good service, and who lies 
buried beside him at St. Denis. This sickly king had done 
great things for France during his sixteen years* reign. 
Besides expelling the English, and settling the quarrels in 
Brittany and with Navarre, he had almost rid the country 
of the Great Companies, and had brought such order 
and economy into the government that he actually left 
great sums in the treasury, instead of huge debts as his 
predecessors had done. 

It is also said that Charles gently but firmly deprived the 
nobles of many of their privileges, so that after him kings 
alone had the right to coin money, bestow titles, or declare 
war in France, while any one could appeal to the crown for 
redress, if dissatisfied with the judgment given by any of 
the nobles. The chief court of the realm was the Parlia- 
ment of Paris, which was given a permanent home in an' 
ancient palace, henceforth to be known as the Palace of 
Justice. 

Charles, himself a student, not only founded the first 
royal library, — which boasted of nine hundred and ten 
volumes, — but had the Bible, and several Greek and 
Latin works, carefully translated. This king also founded 
hospitals, continued the construction of the Louvre, and 
began erecting the Bastille (bas-teel'), a famous fortress in 

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172 OLD FRANCE 

Paris, to awe the citizens should they again attempt to rise 
up against the government, as had happened at the time of 
his regency. It was also to serve as state prison for polit- 
ical offenders, so it will often be mentioned hereafter, for 
it plays a tragic part later on in French history, as you will 
learn. 

Although Charles once said the noble words, " Kings 
are happy only in having the power to do good," he did 
not always put this sentiment into practice ; still, he was, 
on the whole, one of the good kings of France, and de- 
serves special credit for protecting learning and encourag- 
ing progress. 

It may, perchance, amuse you to read some homely social 
rules which a poet of Charles V.*s time gave to ladies. They 
were : " Do not be slovenly in your dress, and do not put 
your fingers in the dish at table. . . . Do not rush into a 
room, but before you open the door give a gentle cough. 
Walk slowly to church, and do not run or jump in the 
streets. Those of you who cannot read must learn the 
hymns at home, so as to keep pace with the priests. Do 
not steal. Do not tell lies." 



XLVII. CHARLES VI. 

CHARLES V. left the throne to his son Charles VI., 
but as the new ruler was only twelve years of age, 
four of his uncles undertook to govern the country in his 
name. Unfortunately, however, each one of these princes 
thought more of filling his own pockets and of furthering 



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CHARLES VI. (1380-1422) 173 

his own interests, than of governing wisely, so you can 
imagine what the French pieople had to suffer. 

One of these men, having recklessly spent the money 
found in his dead brother's treasury, proposed to raise 
more by levying a tax on everything that was sold in the 
realm. But a poor woman, who had sold a bunch of water 
cress, raised such an outcry when the tax collector asked 
her for a share of the price, that it occasioned a riot in 
Paris. 

The rioters madly rushed to the arsenal to seize the iron 
mallets which had been stored there to use in defending 
the city against an attack from the King of Navarre, or 
the Great Companies; hence they were called the Mal- 
leters {Maillotins) , Once armed with these weapons, 
which they handled with a will, the rioters promptly slew 
the tax collectors. This was a breach of law and order 
for which they might have been sorely punished, had not 
a worthy citizen interceded with the king to forgive them. 

This good man (Desmarets), having incurred the royal 
displeasure some time after, was unjustly sentenced to 
death. Then the people, remembering how eloquently he 
had pleaded in their behalf, besought him on the way to 
the scaffold, to ask the king's mercy for himself, too ; but 
he bravely answered, " I have served well and loyally his 
great-grandfather, his grandfather, and his father, and will 
now ask mercy of God alone, for if the king had had the 
age and knowledge of a man, he would never have been 
guilty of such a judgment upon me." 

This great revolt of the Parisians was only a sample 
of what was taking place in many other parts of France, 
for everywhere people were growing weary of constant 

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174 OLD FRANCE 

mismanagement, and becoming more and more eager to 
settle matters to suit themselves. In Flanders, for in- 
stance, the citizens rebelled, ^and setting a leader (Philip 
van Arteveld) at their head, actually prepared to resist 
the king's army when it advanced to suppress them. 

This war against Flanders — the first in which Charles 
VI. took part — is famous for another hard-fought 
battle, near Courtrai (1382), in which the French won 
a great victory, although some say their sacred banner, or 
oriflamme, was lost during the fray and never seen again. 
After this battle the French army proceeded tD Courtrai, 
to rescue the French spurs kept there as trophies, and burn 
down the town, by way of further revenge for a former 
humiliating defeat (see page 141). 

The king's uncles, who had made so many mistakes al- 
ready, were now very busy, one of them in conquering the 
kingdom of Naples, — for which enterprise France had to 
furnish both money and men, — the others in taking pos- 
session of estates newly fallen to their share in Languedoc 
and in Flanders. Because they were thus deeply engaged. 
King Charles was allowed to assume the government at a 
very early age. Still, young as he was, he showed far 
more sense than his experienced uncles, for he soon re- 
called his father's capable ministers, and for the first few 
years of his personal reign honestly tried to do his best 
for people and country. 

Now, it was customary in those days for kings to marry 
very early, so when Charles VI., at seventeen, beheld the 
fourteen-year-old Isabella of Bava'ria, and was charmed by 
her beauty, he proposed, was accepted, and married, — all 
in the course of a few days. Charles's wife was very 



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CHARLES VI. (1380-1422) 



17s 



beautiful, but so young and untrained that she thought of 
nothing but dress and pleasure ; and as she was unfortu- 
nately placed in the midst of a court noted for its depravity, 
it is not surprising 
that she soon learned 
all the evil there was 
for her to absorb, 
and none of the 
good. 

Still, during the 
first few years, Isa- 
bella and her hus- 
band seemed to 
agree very nicely, 
for she taught 
Charles VI. to take 
almost as much 
pleasure in her fa- 
vorite pastimes as 
she did herself. In 
fact, nothing seemed 
to break the continual round of royal amusements, not 
even the death of the king's uncle who had gone to Italy, 
or the loss of his French army, or the horrible death of 
Charles the Bad, who, feeling ill, had been wrapped in 
a sheet saturated with alcohol, which one of his servants 
accidentally set afire by coming too close with a Hght. 

Having finally triumphed over rebellious Flanders, the 
French became eager to resume the old Hundred Years* 
War ; so they began by preparing a large and sumptuous 
fleet to carry them over to England. By some mismanage- 

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Isabella of Bavaria. 



176 OLD FRANCE 

ment, however, the right moment was missed, so all the 
money lavished upon this undertaking was simply wasted. 

To forget this disappointment, the king now plunged 
more recklessly than ever into f^tes and dissipations. He 
celebrated with unwonted magnificence the marriage of 
his brother, the Duke of Orleans, with a princess from 
Milan, and his own interview with the uncles of the 
English king proved another occasion for festivities. 

The following year, when only twenty-four, Charles VI., 
already weakened by excesses, was suffering an attack of 
low fever, when he heard that an attempt had been made 
to murder his general in chief, as the man was leaving the 
palace one evening. Infuriated by this insult, the king 
rose from his sick bed to pursue and punish the murderers, 
although his uncles and physicians besought him to wait 
until he felt stronger, and the intense summer heats were 
over. 

Charles was riding through a forest with a small escort, 
when an old, disheveled, half-clad man suddenly sprang 
out of a thicket and seized the bridle of the king's horse, 
crying in awful tones, "Turn back, O king! Thou art 
betrayed ! " 

This apparition then vanished as suddenly as it had 
appeared, and the king — who was very superstitious — 
rode slowly on, wondering what such a strange warning 
might portend. He had just left the forest and was 
riding across a plain, when, overcome by the heat, one of 
the pages following him suddenly dropped the lance he 
carried, so that it clashed against his companion's armor. 

The sharp click of weapons, breaking the summer 
stillness behind him, and falling upon a nervously appre- 



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CHARLES VI. (13S0-1422) 177 

hensive ear, startled the poor king into sudden insanity. 
He fell upon his escort, attacked his own brother, and was 
disarmed only when utterly exhausted by mad efforts to 
kill all around him. 

For most of the time during the next thirty years, 
Charles VI. was insane, and was kept locked up in his 
palace, where he was often sorely neglected ; we are told 
that for months his clothes were never changed, and that 
he ate and slept more like a wild beast than like a human 
being. His wife, who did not wish to he bothered with 
his care or amusement, soon picked out a peasant girl to 
act as nurse and share his solitude, and this ignorant 
girl proved more faithful and compassionate than his 
own kin or consort, for she always watched over him 
tenderly. 

When the king was moderately well, he took great 
pleasure in seeing plays, which were then called "mys- 
teries," " moralities," or " passions," according to the 
subjects of which they treated. He also indulged in cards, 
and we are told this well-known game was either invented 
or improved for his express benefit Each card was 
symbolical, hearts representing the clergy ; spades (pikes), 
the soldiers; diamonds (tiles), the workmen; and clubs 
(clover-leaves), the peasants. The four kings were dubbed 
David, Alexander, Caesar, and Charles VI., and the four 
queens and knaves also bore names well known in the 
history and romances of the period. 

The king's illness was probably made considerably 
worse by the extraordinary remedies used to cure him, and 
by the lack of proper hygiene in his care. You see, in 
those days, many people thought that the insane were 



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178 OLD FRANCE 

possessed by demons, and believed that sane people could 
easily be driven crazy by magic arts. To eject the evil 
spirit, therefore, and cure the king, all kinds of queer 
remedies were tried. Once, for instance, the poor man 
was made to drink a potion concocted out of ground 
pearls. ' But all the remedies proved futile, for it was only 
at times, and for a brief season, that he recovered his 
senses and feebly tried to govern his realm, which, during 
his insane periods, was misgoverned by his wife, his 
brother, and his uncles. 



XLVIII. MISRULE IN FRANCE 

DURING one of Charles VI. *s brief intervals of lucidity. 
Queen Isabella once gave a fancy dress ball to amuse 
him. The king and five companions were dressed in 
tights, upon which great bunches of flax had been sewed 
to make the wearers look like wild men or monkeys, and 
they came into the hall chained together, executing a fan- 
tastic dance. 

Wishing to see their faces, so as to recognize the mum- 
mers, the kiilg's brother seized a torch and approached 
so close that he set fire to their inflammable costumes. 
Thanks to the presence of mind of a court lady, who 
promptly wrapped her cloak around the king, his life was 
spared ; but four of his companions died in awful torture, 
and the fifth escaped only by plunging into a tub of water, 
or fountain, near by. 

This tragic event brought back the king*s illness, so for 
a while his wife and his uncle Philip of Burgundy man- 



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CHARLES VI. (1380-1422) 179 

aged things to suit themselves. Then the Burgundian 
uncle — who had so distinguished himself at Poitiers, but 
who seems never to have done anything very praiseworthy 
after that — passed away, leaving his son, John the Fear- 
less, Duke of Burgundy in his stead. 

The new Duke of Burgundy and the king's brother — 
the Duke of Orleans — now became rivals, not only for 
the first place at court, but also for the favor of the queen, 
who smiled now on one and now on the other. To please 
this wicked woman, both dukes spent lavishly, and, in 
order to do so, wrung money out of the poor people in 
various ways, refusing meanwhile to pay their just debts. 

Queen Isabella's vanity, love of pleasure, and lack of 
principle, were the more shameful because she was the 
mother of twelve delicate children, who would have been 
far better off had they received motherly care and atten- 
tion. We are told that one boy after another died, until 
the fifth became Dauphin and at length succeeded his 
father. One daughter, Isabella, was married at the early 
age of seven to Richard II. of England,^ and became his 
widow at twelve, only to marry a second time, at fifteen, 
a son of the Duke of Orleans, and die at twenty ! 

The quarrels between the two dukes for the queen's 
favor and for the control of the state led meanwhile to a das- 
tardly crime. One night when the Duke of Orleans — with 
whom the Duke of Burgundy had pretended to be fully 
reconciled — was riding home through the unlighted 
streets of Paris, hired assassins suddenly pounced upon 
and slew one of his men (1407). The Duke of Orleans, 
thinking he had to deal with footpads only, called out his 

1 See Story of the English^ p. 172. 

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i8o OLD FRANCE 

name, whereupon the murderers cried that he was the 
very man they were seeking, and speedily finished their 
evil work by killing him, too. A moment later, a man was 
seen coming out of a house near by to ascertain that the 
right victim had been secured. This man was the Duke 
of Burgundy, in person, who at first tried to deny having 
any share in the crime, but who finally boasted openly of 
having rid himself of a dangerous rival. 

As the king's council did not seem inclined to view the 
murder leniently, the Duke of Burgundy hastily fled to his 
own estates. Then he sent a preacher to Paris, to demon- 
strate, in a series of eloquent sermons, that his master had 
done a most praiseworthy deed in ridding the country of the 
Duke of Orleans, now accused of every imaginable crime. 
Strange to relate, these accusations were believed by many 
people, but the duke's widow defended him stanchly as 
long as she lived, and brought up his children to con- 
sider the murdered man a martyr, and to bear constantly 
in mind that they were to avenge his death as soon as the 
right moment came. 

As the children of the murdered duke were too young 
and inexperienced to head any party, the father-in-law of 
the new Duke of Orleans headed it at first, and as this 
nobleman was Count of Armagnac (ar-man-yak'), his par- 
tisans all assumed that name. During the next fifteen 
years, the bitter quarrel between the Armagnacs and Bur- 
gundians occasionally smoldered, but often broke out into 
open, violent warfare. 

First one party, then another, became master of Paris. 
Once the Duke of Burgundy armed the butchers, stirring 
them up to massacre ruthlessly all the Armagnacs they 

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CHARLES VI. (1380-1422) 181 

could find. Then, in their hatred for each other, both 
parties in turn tried to win the ear of the crazy king in his 
lucid intervals, or sided with their old foes, the English. 

At last the Parisians, weary of this highly uncomfortable 
state of affairs, recalled the fourth Dauphin, who once, 
during the sway of the Burgundians, had been snatched 
from his bed and carried safely out of the city in a bale of 
hay by a devoted servant. But this prince had no sooner 
returned to the capital and patched up a peace with the 
Burgundians, than he learned that the English, under 
Henry V., were again preparing to invade poor France 

(141S). 

An immense army was immediately collected, and sent 
out to meet the English, who, after besieging one of the 
coast cities for a month, were in a pitiable condition, most 
of their soldiers being ill. The French, thinking it would 
be easy to win a brilliant victory over these foes, rashly re- 
fused to take the usual precautions. Driven to bay, the 
English doggedly awaited the attack at Agincourt 
(a-zhSN-koor'). Here the French cavalry, restricted in 
space, and unable to maneuver, owing to rain-drenched, 
plowed fields, was utterly defeated in the third great 
battle of the Hundred Years* War (1415). 

Owing to a rumor that the French were attacking their 
rear, the English on this occasion put to death most of 
their prisoners, thus carrying off only a few princes and 
noblemen to England. But among the former was the 
Duke of Orleans, a talented young man, who had first 
married the widowed Queen Isabella of England, as already 
mentioned, and had then married a daughter of the pow- 
erful Count of Armagnac. 

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l82 OLD FRANCE 

XLIX. THE DISGRACEFUL TREATY 

IT was shortly after the disastrous day of Agincourt, 
that the title of Dauphin fell to Charles VI. *s fifth son, 
who had meantime married a younger daughter of the 
Count of Armagnac. It will not therefore surprise you to 
hear that the Armagnac party now got the upper hand in 
France, and, as Queen Isabella then favored the Burgun- 
dians, banished her to Tours. 

The queen, however, made such an outcry over this 
treatment, that the Duke of Burgundy came to her rescue, 
and, taking advantage of mistakes made by the Armagnac 
faction, once more entered Paris. His return thither was 
marked by bloody massacres, which were speedily followed 
by a plague. 

While civil war was thus tearing France asunder, the 
English, ably led by Henry V., had gradually won back all 
Normandy, although several cities there offered them 
heroic resistance. Rouen, for instance, held out for many 
months, and yielded only after every horse, dog, and rat 
in the place had been devoured, and absolute famine was 
staring the inhabitants in the face. 

But, Rouen having finally surrendered, the English 
could advance almost to the gates of Paris. In presence 
of this great peril, the two warring factions agreed to 
bury their differences for the time being, so a meet- 
ing was arranged between the Dauphin and the Duke 
of Burgundy (John the Fearless) at the bridge of Monte- 
reau (m6Nt-ro'). As each party mistrusted the other, 
elaborate preparations were made for this conference. 
The Dauphin and the duke advanced from opposite sides 



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CHARLES VI. (1380-1422) 183 

of the river, with equal numbers of followers, and met in 
the middle of the bridge, where a booth and barrier had 
been erected. 

Just as the duke knelt before the Dauphin in homage, 
one of the latter's followers suddenly and treacherously 
killed him. Various futile excuses were given later for this 
crime; it was even said that the murderer, striking at 
a snake, had hit the duke accidentally. But the wanton 
crime so angered the Burgundians that they thenceforth 
refused to have any further dealings with the Dauphin, and, 
joining the English, greatly helped them in their efforts 
to become masters of France. Thus you see what the 
monk meant, who said, "The wounds of John the Fear- 
less were the holes through which the English entered 
France ! " 

Influenced by the Burgundians and the English, Isabella 
at once disowned her son, who was accused of being a 
party to the murder of the Duke of Burgundy. She also 
induced her poor demented husband to sign the treaty of 
Troyes(trwa, 1420), whereby he gave his daughter Cather- 
ine in marriage to the English king, Henry V., made him 
regent of all France, and promised that he and his chil- 
dren should be heirs to the throne. Shakespeare, in his 
play of Henry V., has described for us the English king's 
rough wooing of this pretty French princess, who married 
him at her mother's command, rode into Paris by his 
side, and was afterwards received with great rejoicings in 
England. 1 

The Parisians, having suffered so much during the Ar- 
magnac-Burgundian quarrels, received the English gladly, 

* See Guerber*s Stories of Shakespeare s Tragedies, 
o. F. — 12 C^ \ 

uigitizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



l84 OLD FRANCE 

thinking their rule would certainly be preferable to that of 
warring factions or of an insane king; but many of the 
other cities, scorning the treaty of Troyes, refused to 
recognize the English, and rallied loyally around the Dau- 
phin, whom it was supposed to disinherit forever. 

Strange to relate, the strong young English king died in 
France, a few months before the sickly French monarch 
whose title he had so confidently expected to bear for many 
a year. He left his crown to his baby son, Henry VI. 
When Charles VI. died soon after, the people mourned for 
him faithfully, calling him "the Beloved," for they realized 
that had he not been so sorely afflicted, he would doubtless 
have saved them from many of the misfortunes they had 
endured. A herald solemnly announced that Charles VI. 
was dead, and that Henry VI. was now King of England 
and France; but many loyal Frenchmen obstinately re- 
fused that title to a foreigner, and hailed the Dauphin as 
King Charles VII. 

This poor monarch, however, had little power at first ; 
he could not even go to Rheims and be anointed, for that 
city, as well as Paris and more than half his realm, was 
already in the hands of the English. In fact, the only 
section of country thoroughly loy^l to him lay in the cen- 
tral part of the Loire country, so the English, — who pom- 
pously styled their own baby monarch " King of France 
and England," — derisively called Charles "King of 
Bourges" (boorzh). 

Still, the despised " King of Bourges " was not down- 
cast; he even devoted so much time to pleasure, that one 
of his generals bitterly declared he was " losing his realm 
right joyously ! " 



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CHARLES VII. (1422-1461) 185 

L. JOAN TO THE RESCUE 

THE new reigns of Charles VII. (the heir of the de- 
mented Charles VI.) and of Henry VI. (the infant 
successor of bluff " King Hal") began unhappily for poor 
France, hesitating which of these monarchs to obey. On 
the one hand, Frenchmen naturally preferred a French 
king; but, on the other, they were told that if Queen 
Isabella was ready to deprive the Dauphin of the crown, 
it could only be because she knew that this youth was not 
really a son of the late king, and that he therefore had no 
right to the throne. 

The English, being already masters of northern France, 
(fourth map, page 163) now proposed to complete their 
conquest, and for that purpose laid siege to Orleans. But 
Orleans was strongly fortified by great walls all around 
it, and the inhabitants, loyal to the French crown, were 
grimly determined to hold out as long as they could. Still, 
their position was one of great danger, and they soon 
realized that unless they received help, the English would 
become masters of the city in spite of all its brave resist- 
ance. 

The French king, whose scanty troops had been routed 
by the English whenever they came into contact, had 
neither the men nor the money so sorely needed to relieve 
Orleans. It was just then, when the skies seemed darkest, 
that a heroine arose to save the country- and drive away 
the English. 

This heroine is Joan of Arc (Jeanne d*Arc), one of the 
most unselfish and picturesque persons that adorn the 
pages of history. Her short life is so romantic, and has 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



l86 OLD FRANCE- 

been so often a theme of inspiration for painters and 
writers of all kinds, that you must have a clear idea* of 
her, of her deeds, and of her surroundings. 

Joan of Arc was born in 1412, in a peasant cottage — 
which is still standing — at Domremy (d6N-re-mee')on the 
boundary of the provinces of Champagne and Lorraine. 
Like most country children in France, this little girl ran 
about barefoot, tending the cows and sheep, while twirling 
her distaff, for her mother taught her to spin, and later on 
showed her also how to weave and embroider. While 
teaching these useful arts to her children, the good mother 
often related Bible stories, and tales of saints and martyrs, 
until it seemed to Joan as if she knew all these good people 
very well. The village folk, also, often told their children 
fairy tales, and there was one big oak tree, near Joan's 
home, known for miles around as the fairies' tree, be- 
cause the elves were supposed to dance beneath its shade , 
on Midsummer's Eve. 

Joan's village, like many other places in France, was 
a bone of contention between the Burgundians and Ar- 
magnacs. Once, at least, the little girl had to flee with 
her parents, finding on her return home that the enemy 
had done great damage to their humble possessions. 
When Joan was about thirteen years of age, she was fa- 
vored by a first vision : as she was working in the garden, 
she suddenly saw a bright light and heard a sweet voice 
bidding her be good and go often to church. Joan did 
not tell of this vision till long afterwards, but she obeyed 
the voice, and was so good and pious that visions came to her 
more and more frequently. In time, she became suffi- 
ciently accustomed to them to glance in the direction of the 

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CHARLES VII. (1422-1461) 



187 



light, where she saw — or imagined she saw — radiant 
forms. These, she perceived, were angels, and St. Michael, 
St. Margaret, and St. Catherine, in particular, often came 
thereafter and spoke 
gently to her. 

The " voices," as 
Joan herself always 
called her visions, 
told her of the suf- 
ferings of the poor 
people in France, 
and informed her 
that she was chosen 
by God to deliver 
Orleans, and to lead 
the Dauphin to 
Rheims to be 
crowned. But Joan 
could not believe 
that she — a poor 
peasant girl — would 
ever be able to ac- 
complish what all the king's soldiers had failed to do, so 
she hesitated a long time, and it was not till she was about 
eighteen that she finally obeyed the directions she had 
received, and prepared to fulfill her mission. 

Her parents and the village priest thought Joan crazy 
when she first spoke of her voices, and of the work she 
was called upon to perform. Her father roughly declared 
he would rather drown her than allow her to associate 
with soldiers. Joan, however, insisted she had no choice 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 




Painting by MaUlart. 



Joan's Vision. 



i88 OLD FRANCE 

but to obey her heavenly guides. Seeing that she could 
expect no help from her own immediate family, she finally 
persuaded an uncle to take her to the neighboring castle of 
Vaucouleurs (vo-coo-ler'), where, as the voices had stated, 
she would find an escort to lead her to the king. 

The lord of Vaucouleurs at first grimly remarked that 
Joan ought to be slapped and sent home, but after a time, 
seeing that the villagers near him believed in her mission, 
he too began to think that God might have sent her. Be- 
sides, a prediction had been made that " France would be 
lost by a Woman and saved by a Maid," and as it was 
well known that Isabella was a wicked woman, and that 
the ruin of France was mainly due to her sins, people 
everywhere longed for the coming of the promised Maid. 
A message was therefore dispatched to the king, and hav- 
ing obtained his permission to send Joan on to him, the lord 
of Vaucouleurs gladly supplied an escort to take her to 
court. 

As this little troop had to pass through a wide stretch of 
country occupied by the enemy, Joan cut off her long hair, 
donned men's clothes and armor, and, bestriding the horse 
which the poor people had purchased for her use, she rode 
off with eight men. Traveling by night, camping in for- 
ests by day, avoiding towns and villages, and fording five 
rivers, Joan and her escort, after eleven days' journey, 
reached the castle on the Loire (Chinan) where the king 
was then staying. 

The little troop rested at one of the inns in the small 
town, until the king sent for Joan. Part of the room where 
they first met still stands, and a monument has been 
erected in the town in Joan's honor. 



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CHARLES VII. (1422-1461) 189 

LI. ORLEANS AND RHEIMS 

CHARLES — the Dauphin, as he was still called, for, 
as yet, he had not been consecrated — was just 
then very much depressed, because an army which he had 
sent to capture some supplies from the English had recently 
been defeated in the " Battle of the Herrings." Besides, 
the king had so little money, that even his shoemaker re- 
fused to give him credit for a pair of new boots ! He was 
also doubtful whether the rumors which he had heard 
might not be true, and thought that if he were not the 
late king's son,. he really had no right to the throne; still, 
he did not dare express this doubt to any one, but brooded 
over it constantly in secret. 

The reports concerning Joan had awakened the curiosity 
of the whole court, so Charles made up his mind to sub- 
ject the girl to a test which would immediately reveal 
whether she were a fraud or not. He therefore placed one 
of his courtiers, magnificently attired, in a conspicuous 
position, and hid himself among the throng of spectators, 
whence he watched to see what Joan would do. To the 
amazement of all present, the peasant girl, instead of doing 
homage to the gorgeously clad courtier seated on the 
throne, glanced eagerly around her, and singling out the 
king, — whom she had never seen, — bent the knee before 
him ! Then she informed him gravely that she had been 
sent to relieve Orleans, and to lead him to Rheims, then 
still in the hands of the foe. 

This first test did not, however, entirely satisfy the king, 
but when Joan informed him privately that her voices de- 
clared he was rightful heir to the throne, and when a 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



igo OLD FRANCE 

council of priests, after examining the Maid, decided that 
she was a good giri and a true Christian, and could not 
therefore have been sent by Satan, he made up his mind 
to accept the services she offered. 

By her orders, a white satin standard was made, a sword 
with five crosses was discovered buried in a neighboring 
church, and an army was prepared to march on to Orleans. 
But Joan was so good and pious that she insisted that the 
men should pray night and morning, confess their sins, 
hear mass, and receive the sacrament before going into 
battle. 

Some of the soldiers greatly objected to this, among 
others General La Hire (heer), who, the story runs, when 
asked to say an original prayer, since he did not know 
any by heart, roughly expressed his sentiments as follows : 
" Lord God, — Do unto La Hire to-day as La Hire would 
do unto you, if he were Lord God and you were La Hire. 
Amen." Joan also forbade all swearing among the troops, 
but La Hire, who could not entirely refrain from strong 
language, was allowed to swear "by my stick" (of com- 
mand) when he felt that he must enforce his words by 
some strong expression. 

At last all the preparations were completed, and the 
army set out to relieve Orleans. Joan had decreed that 
it should march right through the enemy's lines, but 
the generals, fearing such an undertaking, and taking a 
mean advantage of her lack of geographical knowledge, 
led the force along the southern shore of the Loire River. 

When they came opposite Orleans, therefore, the river 
lay between them and the city, and there were not boats 
enough to convey the troops across the water ! So Joan 



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CHARLES VII. (1422-1461) 



191 



sent the army back, with orders to cross at the nearest 
bridge and return along the other shore, while she and a 
small trpop entered the city. She promised to make 
a sally to escort the army safely through the enemy's 
lines, whenever it appeared. 

Orleans, then on the verge of famine and despair, joy- 
fully welcomed the Maid with her convoy of provision 




Painting by Lenepveu. 



Joan entering Orleans. 



boats, and hailed with rapture her promise of further aid. 
It was through a crowd almost delirious with joy that Joaji 
made her way to the house where she was to lodge. A 
few days later she sallied forth and marched unharmed 
through the enemy's lines to escort the relieving forces 
back to the city. 

This first success was soon followed by others. In spite 

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192 OLD FRANCE 

of all opposition, Joan led out her troops, took one fort 
after another, and finally drove the English away, thus 
raising the siege of Orleans, as she had promised. 

The Maid next joined the king and urged him to march 
on to Rheims, promising that the cities on the way thither 
would open their gates at his approach. Thus encouraged, 
Charles VII. began what turned out to be a triumphal 
march, through a land which gladly threw off the English 
yoke, and without striking a blow arrived at Rheims, 
where he was duly crowned and anointed. 

Joan was present at the coronation, in full armor, and 
bearing her banner. When the ceremony was over, the 
king bade her ask any reward she wished for her services ; 
and she unselfishly requested that her native village of 
Domremy should henceforth be freed from taxes, and that 
she might be allowed to return to her humble home. 

The first part of her request was readily granted, and 
Domremy was free from taxation until the Revolution 
(1792). Thus for nearly four hundred years ''the Maid 
of Orleans " — as Joan was now almost exclusively called 
— appeared on the tax lists opposite the name of her 
native village, instead of the sum which it would otherwise 
have been obliged to pay. 

But when it came to the second item, the king, in 
spite of her entreaties and tears, insisted that her mission 
was not yet finished, and that she must help him drive the 
English entirely out of the country. Although reluctantly, 
Joan consented at last to remain ; but she urged Charles 
repeatedly to be up and doing, as the right moipent had 
come to act. You see, now that for the first time all 
loyal Frenchmen believed Charles VII. divinely appointed 



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CHARLES VII. (1422-1461) 193 

to rule France, plenty of men and money were placed at 
his disposal. But instead of fighting, the dilatory king 
signed a truce with the new Duke of Burgundy (Philip 
the Good) — an ally of the English — and continued to 
pass the greater part of his time in idleness, lavishing 
much money on his favorite, Agnes Sorel'. 



LII. JOAN'S CAPTIVITY AND MARTYRDOM 

JOAN, who was meantime busy drilling and disciplin- 
ing her army, finally prevailed upon the king to 
allow her to seize certain cities, and even to march on to 
Paris. There, had she been loyally seconded, the Maid 
would have taken the city by assault; but as she was 
wounded in the first engagement, the generals, taking 
advantage of her helplessness, sounded a retreat and with- 
drew, just when victory was within their grasp I 

In obedience to a vow, Joan now hung her armor above 
the altar at St. Denis, and reluctantly followed the king 
to Bourges, where another period of idleness was imposed 
upon her restive spirit. Still, as soon as she was allowed 
to fight again, she did so with her usual bravery and suc- 
cess, gaining more cities, taking prisoners, and winning 
battles. But all this time she was sorely depressed, for 
her voices kept warning her that she would fall into the 
hands of the enemy " before midsummer." 

In spite of this premonition of evil, Joan continued her 
work bravely, spending all her leisure time in prayer and 
in works of charity. Then, hearing that a small city 
(Compi^gne), which had surrendered to the king, was 



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194 OLD FRANCE 

sorely beset by Burgundians, she hastened thither to 
succor the inhabitants (1430). While here, she was sepa- 
rated from the bulk of her troops one day, during a sortie, 
and the soldiers, intent only upon their own safety, 
actually closed the city gates almost in her face. Although 
Joan vainly tried to cut her way through the foe, so as to 
reach another gate or town, she was soon torn down from 
her horse by the long coat which she wore over her 
armor, and thus was made captive. 

The soldier who took her sold her immediately to the 
Burgundians, from whose custody she once made a mad 
attempt to escape. In doing this Joan fell to the bottom 
of a sixty-foot tower, where she was picked up stunned, 
but otherwise unharmed. But she was thrust back into 
prison and closely guarded, 'until her captors, in sore need 
of money, arranged to sell her to the English, into whose 
keeping she passed after six months of close detention. 

The English, having secured Joan at last, were deter- 
mined to destroy her influence in France, by proving that 
she was inspired by Satan and not by God, as she always 
claimed. To compass this base purpose they collected at 
Rouen a large jury of men, all pledged to find her guilty, 
and began one of the most iniquitous trials in history. 

Although she was pitted against no less than sixty- 
three learned and unscrupulous judges, each and all of 
whom brought their knowledge and skill to bear so as to 
convict Joan of impiety, immorality, and witchcraft, this 
trial, which lasted many weeks, resulted in proving Joan 
absolutely innocent of all the serious charges brought 
against her. Besides, her replies to the questions make 
- the purity and unselfishness of her character, her trust 

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CHARLES VII. (1422-1461) 195 

in God, and her charity toward all men, — virtuous traits 
which she showed during the whole of her short life. 

The worst charge proved against her was that she had 
worn men's garments, and had persistently refused to lay 
them aside ! Still, she now consented to do so, provided 
she were put in another prison and guarded by women 
only. The judges, tTiereupon, read a brief paper, stating 
that she would submit to the Church, and bade her — since 
she could neither read nor write — sign it with a cross. 

Joan complied, little suspecting that instead of the paper 
read aloud in her presence, these wicked judges had sub- 
stituted another, in which she acknowledged that she was 
false and bad in every way. This document duly signed, 
Joan put on women's garments, only to be led back to the 
self-same prison, where she was constantly guarded by 
brutal men ! 

One day, when she was in bed, these rough keepers 
took away her woman's clothes, and laid the old male ap- 
parel within her reach. Having no choice save to don 
these garments, or to appear unclothed before her jailers, 
Joan naturally put on men's clothes. She had no sooner 
done so, however, than the cruel Bishop of Beauvais (bo-vS') 
— who had been her main persecutor — appeared in her 
prison, telling her that, as she had failed to keep her 
promise, she would now be tried again. But the second 
trial proved even more of a mockery than the first, and 
poor Joan was condemned to be burned at the stake, as a 
heretic and witch. 

The courage which the Maid of Orleans had shown all 
through her career now forsook her for a brief space of 
time, and she loudly wailed: "Ah! I had rather be be- 

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196 



OLD FRANCE 



headed seven times than burned. I appeal to God against 
all these great wrongs they do me ! " 

But, condemned to immediate death, Joan, clad in a 

long white garment, 
was chained to a 
stake erected on the 
public square of 
Rouen, where all 
the people eagerly 
assembled to see 
**the witch" burned 
and to taunt and 
torment her to the 
very end. 

One priest, how- 
ever, taking pity on 
her, brought a cross 
from a neighboring 
church, mounted the 
pyre with her, and 
left her only when 
the flames began to 
rise and she unself- 
ishly bade him think 
of his own safety. 
Her last words were 
full of faith in God and of pity for France, and never once 
did she utter one word of blame against the king whom 
she had served so loyally, but who throughout her long 
captivity and trial made no attempt either to ransom or to 
rescue her. 




Palming by Lenepveu. 

Joan's Martyrdom. 



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CHARLES VII. (1422-1461) 197 

Even when the flames rose around her, Joan still in- 
sisted that her " voices " came from God, and called upon 
her favorite saints, Michael, Catherine, and Margaret, to 
help her. An English soldier, who had vowed to help 
bum " the witch," threw a fagot of wood on the flames, 
just as Joan loudly cried, "Jesus! Mary!*' before her 
spirit fled. This soldier, startled and awestruck, declared 
ever after that he had seen a dove rise up from the pyre 
and wing its way to heaven, adding that he knew this 
dove was the pure spirit of the martyred maid ! 

Most of the spectators left the scene of torture with the 
conviction that Joan was a martyr, and even the English 
governor exclaimed in awestruck tones : " We are all lost, 
for we have burned a saint ! '* 

By order of the judges, Joan's ashes were immediately 
cast into the Seine, but the spot where she was burned is 
now marked by a monument in her honor, as are many 
other noted places in France. The English soon found 
that Joan the martyr could do them even more harm than 
Joan at the head of an army, for, as she had predicted at 
the stake, they were finally driven out of France. At the 
end of the war they retained nothing but the city of Calais, 
after having been masters of most of the kingdom. 

More than twenty years after Joan's death, Charles VII., 
seeing it would be to his advantage to have Joan's memory 
cleared, had her tried over again, and freed from all former 
disgrace. Ever since then the Maid of Orleans has been 
honored in France as a heroine and saint, although, strange 
to relate, her name did not figure as such on the calendar 
until 1909. 

Above the door of the humble house where Joan was 



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198 . OLD FRANCE 

born can still be seen a small statue of the Maid in armor, 
and whenever troops file past, every soldier gravely salutes 
the brave girl who rescued France from the enemy, and 
who died a martyr at nineteen years of age ! 

The story of Joan is a favorite theme for playwrights, 
historians, poets, painters, and sculptors; and many literary 
and artistic masterpieces commemorate her life and death. 
In the Pantheon in Paris, for instance, there are a series 
of beautiful frescoes, which give a wonderful idea of the 
achievements of the untutored peasant girl of Domremy, 
who, by singleness of purpose and implicit obedience to her 
mysterious voices, accomplished what all the French gen- 
erals and armies could not compass, — the ejection of the 
English from France, thus really ending the terrible 
Hundred Years' War. 



LIII. CHARLES'S SUCCESSES 

WHEN Joan breathed her last at Rouen in 143 1, the 
English, still masters of Normandy, had already 
begun to be disliked there on account of the heavy taxes 
they kept imposing to pay for the long war. Besides, the 
Duke of Burgundy now began to quarrel with the English 
general; so in 143S, by the treaty of Arras', he became rec- 
onciled to the French king, whom he now proceeded to 
help against the English, his former allies. 

It was shortly after this reconciliation that the infamous 
Isabella of Bavaria died. She was buried at St. Denis 
with no more ado than if she had been a common woman, 
although all her lifetime she had delighted in pomp and 
dress. • 



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CHARLES VII. (1422-1461) 199 

Two years later Charles VII. entered Paris for the first 
time as its king (1437), only to find the city so waste and 
desolate that grass grew in some of the streets, and wolves 
ranged through them at night. This sight seems to have 
roused the king at last from his lethargy, for he now 
ceased to lavish all his time, attention, and money on his 
pleasures, and proceeded to govern with wisdom. In- 
deed, the end of his reign proved as beneficial to France 
as the beginning had been disastrous. He was greatly 
helped in his wise reforms by a merchant named Jacques 
Coeur (zhak ker), who had grown very rich by trading 
with the East, and who assisted the king not only by his 
advice, but also with his money whenever pressing need 
arose. 

Charles VII., who, as we have seen, proved so ungrateful 
towards Joan of Arc, was equally so in regard to this mer- 
chant. He not only believed false and slanderous reports 
about him, but unjustly deprived him of all means to prove 
his innocence, and finally banished him from France, after 
subjecting him to all manner of humiliations. Among the 
articles of property confiscated from him was a beautiful 
building in Bourges (still known as the House of Jacques 
Coeur), a superb example of the architecture of the day, and 
of the artistic taste of the owner. 

With sufficient funds, a permanent army, — which he 
was the first to organize, — and a loyal people, Charles 
managed to end successfully the weary Hundred Years' 
War (1453), after having conquered Normandy and Gui- 
enne, the last provinces to be held by the enemy. Thus, 
as Joan had predicted, the English were driven out of 
France, which they were never again to claim as their own, 
o. F. — 13 r^ T 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



200 OLD FRANCE 

although they retained possession of the city of Calais for 
some time longer. 

This epoch had also been a troublesome one for the 
Church, as difficulties had arisen, and for more than three- 
score years there had been two great religious parties and 
part of the time two rival Popes. The same year that saw 
Joan*s trial and death witnessed the convocation of a coun- 
cil at Basel (ba'zel), where an attempt was made to settle 
these religious disputes. Charles, who after Joan's death 
became quite noted as an administrator, adopted all those 
measures of this council which could result to his advan- 
tage, and, by what is known as the Pragmatic Sanction, 
secured the royal privilege of nominating candidates to the 
French sees, a privilege which in the hands of unscrupulous 
successors was responsible for many misfortunes in the 
Church of France. 

It was during the reign of Charles VII. that the art of 
printing was discovered (about 1450), and that Constanti- 
nople was taken by the Turks (1453), thus causing a great 
scattering of manuscript libraries and learned men, which 
helped greatly to further civilization and progress through- 
out the Western world. 

Charles not only made a complete collection of all the old 
laws of France, but arranged that Parliaments should be 
instituted both at Toulouse and Greno'ble, so that French- 
men in the south should have courts near at hand for the 
settlement of their disputes. 

Charles VII. was to be duly punished for the ingratitude 
he showed to those who served him, by the unfilial conduct 
of his son, the Dauphin Louis. Not only did this prince 
join the nobles when they rebelled against the king's re- 



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LOUIS XI. (1461-1483) 201 

forms in 1440, but he also headed a new revolt fifteen 
years later. Then fearing his father's just anger, Louis 
sought refuge in Burgundy, with the old enemy of his 
race, Duke Philip the Good. 

Charles VII., who had twice succeeded in putting down 
serious rebellions, — thus showing the lords and people 
that he was truly master of his realm, — finally fell seriously 
ill. In his weakness, he imagined that bis illness was due 
to an attempt on his son's part to poison him, so refusing 
all food, he died miserably, having reigned thirty-nine 
eventful years. During the first few years, as we have 
seen, he nearly lost the realm of his ancestors, but then he 
regained it slowly but surely, for Charles " the Victorious " 
was also "the Well-served," having been ably aided by 
true patriots like Joan of Arc, Dunois (dli-nwa') La Hire, 
and Jacques Coeur, to mention only a few of the great 
names of his period. 



LIV. THE CRAFTY KING LOUIS XL 

WHEN Charles VH. died, the rebellious Louis was 
still staying at the court of Burgundy, so he nat- 
urally insisted that the duke accompany him to Rheims 
to see him crowned. There, the new monarch, Louis XL, 
made all manner of fine promises to his former host, — 
promises which he never kept, for while this king was 
very lavish of them, he was always too mean to fulfill any 
which he could evade. Indeed, this king was a decidedly 
peculiar man, entirely devoid of heart or conscience, but 
very clever, and fully determined to make his authority 

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202 



OLD FRANCE 



absolute. A great historian of his time (Comines) says: 
" Of all the princes that I ever knew, the wisest and the 
most dexterous to extricate himself out of any danger or 
difficulty in time of adversity was our master, King Louis 
XL" Because this king is utterly unlike all the monarchs 

before and after him, 
he is a marked char- 
acter in history, and, as 
he succeeded in many 
of his undertakings, his 
is a very important reign 
in the history of France. 
This new king, who 
was a great hypocrite, 
affected extreme piety 
and simplicity, went 
about meanly clad, and 
ruled mostly by trick- 
ery. His favorite saying 
was that " he who does 
not know how to dis- 
simulate does not know 
how to reign." He was secretive to the point that he once 
declared, " If I thought my own cap knew my secrets, I 
would throw it into the fire." This cap or hat, by the 
way, was a peculiar head covering of his, with leaden 
images of saints fastened all around the band. Louis XL, 
we are told, was wont to kiss and fondle these images, 
kneeling down before them to say his prayers, and begging 
their pardon whenever he had done anything specially out- 
rageous. 




Louis XI. 



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LOUIS XI. (1461-1483) 203 

Like his father, he was most ungrateful, dismissing or 
forgetting people as soon as he no longer needed their 
services. His physician, as clever and unscrupulous as he, 
being aware of this peculiarity, — as well as of the king's 
superstition and fear of death, — once remarked to him : 
" I know well that sometime or other you will dismiss me 
from court, as you have done the rest : but be sure (and 
he confirmed it with a great oath) that you shall not live 
eight days after you do so ! '* It was by this means that the 
crafty doctor retained his position as long as the king lived. 

Here is another story illustrating Louis's extreme dread 
of death. It seems that, being so superstitious, he never 
failed to consult all the astrologers he could, although he 
sometimes amused himself by making their predictions 
fail if it lay in his power to do so. An astrologer once 
came to court and predicted things which so enraged the 
king that he angrily resolved to put this man to death. 
In his hypocritical way, however, he slyly remarked: 
" You pretend to be very clever, and to be able to foretell 
the fate of others. Now, tell me your own fate and how 
much longer you have to live." 

The astrologer, perceiving his design, cleverly replied : 
" I shall die just three days before your Majesty." This 
shrewd answer actually saved the man's life, for after such 
a prediction the king was very careful not to do anything 
which, by shortening the astrologer's days, might per- 
chance hasten his own end. 

Louis XL's character was such that he could have no 
real friends and won no great affection, not even from his 
wife and children. He was married twice, his first wife 
dying before he came to the throne. He was so mistrust- 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



204 OLD FRANCE 

ful of his second wife that she seldom occupied the same 
palace or town as he, and he spent very little time in her 
company. But as the queen was his opposite in almost 
every respect, it must have been a great relief for her to 
see as little as possible of her heartless spouse. 

The king's eldest daughter, the Lady of Beaujeu (b5-zhe'), 
was as clever, cool, and calculating as he. The second, 
Joan, a gentle, deformed creature, was given in marriage to 
the Duke of Orleans, a dashing young nobleman, who, we 
are told, never loved this spouse, neglected her shamefully, 
and as soon as it was in his power to do so, gladly obtained 
a divorce from her. The king's third and last child, and 
only son, was the sickly, rather deformed Dauphin Charles, 
whose presence his father could not abide, partly because 
it irritated him to see his heir so feeble in body and mind, 
but mainly because the thought that he must die some day, 
and that this youth would succeed him, was simply unen- 
durable. Instead of doing his best to strengthen his son 
bodily and mentally, Louis XL neglected him in every 
way. As a result, the Dauphin was so poorly educated 
that he scarcely knew how to read or write, and his head 
was filled with the romances read aloud to amuse him, 
instead of the knowledge which would have enabled him 
to become a good king. 



LV. BEGINNING OF LOUIS XL'S REIGN 

THE first years of Louis XI's reign were far from 
prosperous, for when he tried to put down the nobles 
and rule supreme, they openly rebelled against him, form- 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



LOUIS XI. (1461-1483) 205 

ing what is known as the League of the Public Weal. But 
although thus opposed by nearly all the aristocracy, Louis 
intrigued cleverly against them. He bribed some of the 
nobles to side with him, coaxed others to be neutral, and 
managed to intimidate the rest. His methods, which were 
always sly and underhand, show that he was an adept 
at kingcraft^ while they won for him the curious surname 
of ** the universal spider." 

Still, although Louis avoided open conflict as much as 
possible, he was no coward, for he boldly took the field 
against the foes whom he could neither bribe nor frighten. 
Once, quite near Paris an indecisive battle was fought, 
mainly against his former friends, the Burgundians. 
Shortly after this encounter, the king, ever ready to 
make concessions in words and on paper, signed a treaty 
with the rebellious nobles (1465), and henceforth, profiting 
by the experience he had gained, proceeded more cau- 
tiously but none the less surely to effect the reforms he 
had planned. 

During most of his reign, his main foe and rival was 
Charles the Bold, the fourth duke of the second house of 
Burgundy, who, owning all Burgundy and the main part 
of what is now Belgium and Holland, dreamed of form- 
ing a middle kingdom extending from the Atlantic to the 
Mediterranean, by purchasing or conquering the estates 
necessary to round out his own. As he was already 
master of the richest towns in Europe (Dijon, Liege, Ghent, 
Bruges, etc.), and as his wealth was greater than that of 
any other sovereign of his time, Charles felt confident of 
ultimately attaining his goal. No sooner, therefore, had 
his father (Philip the Good) passed away than he began 

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2o6 OLD FRANCE 

to carry out these ambitious plans, by marrying a sister 
of the King of England so as to secure an important 
alliance. 

Of course, so clever a monarch as Louis XL soon be- 
came aware of Charles the Bold's ambitious schemes, and 
naturally brought all his sagacity into play to outwit the 
duke, who was already far too powerful a vassal to suit 
him. The king foresaw that if the duke should extend 
his territories in an unbroken line from sea to sea, and 
assume the regal title, he would soon outshine and over- 
power even a King of France. 

Louis XL's chief counselor, Cardinal La Balue', advised 
him to secure his ends by diplomacy, and suggested that 
he meet the duke at P6ronne (pa-ron'). So the King of 
France betook himself thither, with a small escort; but 
the negotiations thus begun were not concluded as speedily 
as Louis had hoped. Fearing lest they might not turn 
out in the end as he wished, Louis had meantime sent secret 
agents to Li6ge (le-azh'), to bribe the inhabitants of that 
rich merchant city to rebel against their lord, the Duke of 
Burgundy. 

Unfortunately, the rebellion broke out before the inter- 
view at P6ronne was concluded, and the duke, suddenly 
discovering the treacherous part Louis had played, was 
greatly enraged. It seemed at first as if he would either 
kill or imprison for life the foe who had so imprudently 
ventured into his clutches. Louis, however, perceiving 
the danger, was pliant and conciliatory, readily promised 
to sign a humiliating treaty, and even proposed to march 
northward with Charles to subdue Li6ge ; so that a tempo- 
rary peace was patched up between them, 

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LOUIS XI. (1461-1483) 207 

As soon as it was concluded, king and duke marched 
in concert upon Liege, and took the city after eight days* 
siege. Imagine how indignant the inhabitants were when 
they discovered that the very man who had encouraged 
them to revolt was now fighting against them ! When it 
was all over, and the French king was safe once more 
within his own boundaries, he showed how keenly he felt 
his humiliation, it is said, by publishing an edict that all 
parrots, magpies, etc., be confiscated or slain, whose vo- 
cabulary included the word " P^ronne," or any allusion to the 
fact that on this occasion the "biter had been bitten." 

Next, he assembled the States-General at Tours (1470), 
to make them cancel the treaty he had signed under com- 
pulsion at Peronne. Then, to avenge himself upon La 
Balue for the bad advice he had given, the king had him 
shut up in a narrow iron cage, a species of torture which 
La Balue himself had devised for the punishment of crimi- 
nals. 

It was at this juncture that Louis's brother, who had 
sided with the League and with the Duke of Burgundy, 
suddenly died, an event which was very pleasing to the 
king, who now cheerfully annexed this brother's province 
of Guienne to the crown lands. But while he was thus 
adding to his territories, and releasing himself from incon- 
venient pledges, his rival, the Duke of Burgundy, marched 
southward with an army, and proceeded to besiege Beau- 
vais, to punish Louis for his treachery. 

This town resisted heroically, and when the duke tried 
to storm the walls, the women, led by a heroine named 
Jeanne Hachette (zhan a-shet'), bravely defended the ram- 
parts, so that they succeeded in repelling the powerful foe. 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



208 



OLD FRANCE 



Ever since this siege, women have been given the prece- 
dence in processions at Beauvais, in public recognition 
for their services on this occasion. Charles the Bold, thus 




Painting bi/ Maillart. 



The Women defending Beauvais. 



obliged to retreat, next tried to join the Duke of Brittany, 
but Louis cleverly won over the latter, and made a treaty 
with the King of England, thereby outwitting his rival at 
every turn. 

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LOUIS XI. (1461-1483) 209 

LVI. ACHIEVEMENTS OF LOUIS XI. 

DISAPPOINTED in his plans to extend his territory 
on the French side, the Duke of Burgundy now 
fancied he might prove more successful in Germany, hoping 
also to obtain the title of king from the Emperor, to whom 
he did homage for part of his estates. But there, too, 
Charles the Bold was to fail. One of his governors having 
exasperated some Swiss people intrusted to his care, they 
rose in rebellion, — secretly encouraged and aided by funds 
supplied by Louis XI. Determined to subdue these rebels, 
the Duke of Burgundy set out with a brilliant army, only 
to be twice defeated with great loss by determined peas- 
ants (first at Granson and then at Morat, 1476). 

These two battles mark the time when the Swiss threw 
off forever the Burgundian yoke ; and they were most dis- 
astrous to the duke, who, besides losing many thousands 
of men, lost also immense treasures. Still, the plunder of 
his rich camp was of small benefit to the victors, who sold 
gold and silver plate for a few pence, — deeming it only 
pewter and copper, — and who valued some of the finest 
jewels in Christendom at only a few francs. 

The humiliation of such defeats at the hands of untrained 
rustics almost drove the proud Duke of Burgundy insane. 
In his reckless rage he next attacked the Duke of Lorraine 
with only a handful of men, but there again came into 
contact with the Swiss, now allies of his foe. Thus the 
battle of Nan'cy (1477) was lost, too, and when all was 
over, the duke's corpse was discovered by one of his ser- 
vants, half caught in the ice of a frozen stream. 

Hearing that his great rival and foe, Charles the Bold, 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



2IO OLD FRANCE 

was dead, Louis XL immediately seized Burgundy and 
the duke*s only daughter, Mary, a girl of about twenty. 
He then declared that Burgundy could be inherited only 
by males, although the young duchess claimed it as well 
as Flanders. Then, for a short time, hoping to keep both 
Burgundy and Flanders in the family, the crafty Louis de- 
tained the young Duchess Mary in France, meanwhile trying^ 
to win her consent to marry his sickly son, then only a little 
boy. But the absurdity of such a marriage was too great, 
so Louis was at last obliged to give up the plan, and to al- 
low the duchess to go to Flanders, where the burghers 
soon induced her to marry Maximil'ian, son of the Emperor. 

The story of Charles the Bold's death, of Louis's crafty 
schemes to secure both Burgundy and Flanders, and of 
Mary's escape from the French court, is told in a thrilling 
way in Sir Walter Scott's Quentin Djirward and in his 
Anne of Geiersteiuy (gl'er-stin), where you will get the best 
idea of Louis XL's character, of his mode of living and sur- 
roundings, and of the famous people of his time. 

The heiress of Burgundy having married a German 
prince, Louis hastened to confiscate all her estates in 
France ; but what was left of her dowry proved enough to 
make her husband very wealthy. Maximilian, however, 
always claimed that Burgundy ought to be restored to his 
wife, and even invaded France and fought the battle of 
Guinegate (geen-gat', 1479) in hopes of forcing Louis XL 
to relinquish all claim upon it. But Maximilian was no 
match for the astute French monarch, who not only re- 
tained possession of Burgundy, but when Mary of Bur- 
gundy died, leaving two young children, arranged that her 
little daughter, aged three, should be brought up at the 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



LOUIS XI. (1461-1483) 211 

French court as the future bride of his son, the Dauphin. 
This arrangement ended for some time the dispute in 
regard to the possession of Burgundy, which, however, was 
to be renewed later on. 

Louis XL, "the wisest king that had ever borne rule in 
France, and the best obeyed," proved a great patron of let- 
ters, and welcomed to France many of the learned men 
who had escaped from Constantinople. He also had sev- 
eral printing presses established in his realm, and is known 
as the founder of the post office, for he arranged that cou- 
riers should carry dispatches from end to end of the coun- 
try, with hitherto unknown speed and safety, by means of 
relays at stated intervals. 

Louis XL is the founder of the order of St. Michael, 
which he instituted to offset the Burgundian order of the 
Golden Fleece, devised by Philip the Good, father of 
Charles the Bold, as a token of great distinction. 

The crown lands were greatly extended under Louis's 
wise rule. By conquest, purchase, and inheritance he 
added no less than eleven provinces to the royal domain, 
and, as we have seen, he further extended the royal power 
by holding the aristocracy in proper subjection. 

But Louis XL, who reached his ends so cleverly, was 
anything but a happy man. He was so suspicious that he 
trusted no one. Constantly expecting the attack of some 
enemy, he surrounded himself with walls, traps, and all 
manner of safeguards, and lived more like a crazy prisoner 
than like a rational human being. 

His intimates were his hangman, whom he called his 
** gossip," his barber, and several other people of low ex- 
traction and anything but noble character. For miles 

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212 OLD FRANCE 

around the castles he occupied, one saw gallows with 
corpses swinging, pits, traps, and various devices for tor- 
ture. Hisf avorite mode of punishment was to lock a pris- 
oner in an iron cage, so small that a man could neither 
stand upright in it, nor stretch out full length when lying 
down. Victims in these cages were often exposed at the 
top of some tower to all the rigors of wind and weather. 
The wretched inventor of this mode of torture, was himself, 
as we have seen, condemned to a ten years* trial of it ; for 
Louis spared neither his foes nor his so-called friends. 

Scarcely had the quarrel about Burgundy been settled, 
when the king, who had always been sickly, became seri- 
ously ill. As the fear of death now haunted him night and 
day, he sent to Italy for Francis of Paul, and implored this 
holy man to cure him, or at least to intercede with heaven 
so that his life might be prolonged, promising all manner 
of rewards in exchange for such a service. 

But the holy man assured the king that he had'no super- 
natural powers at all, and seriously advised him to .make 
his peace with God, as his end was evidently very near. 
Convinced at last that he must die before long, Louis set 
his affairs in order, gave excellent advice to his son, and 
after showing such regret as he was capable of feeling for 
the many unjust and criminal deeds he had done, peacefully 
passed away. 



LVIL CHARLES VIIL 

THE heir to the crown, known in history as Charles 
VHL, was, as we have seen, puny in body and weak 
in intellect. His education had been so neglected that al- 



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CHARLES VIII. (1483-1498) 213 

though thirteen years of age he was still a mere puppet in 
the hands of the nobles. But Louis XL had been so feared 
and hated, that his death was hailed as a great relief by 
the whole nation. The courtiers began by avenging some 
of their past injuries in ill-treating the favorites of the de- 
ceased monarch, one of whom was put to death, another 
imprisoned in one of the famous iron cages, and the doctor 
banished, after being obliged to surrender a large part of 
the fortune he had wrung from his late master. 

The death of Louis XL was also the signal for MaximiL 
ian to claim Burgundy once more, while Fer'dinandof Spain 
demanded the restoration of two provinces which he had 
ceded to France. The clergy, the nobles, and the peasants 
each had requests to make in the great meeting of the 
States-General at Tours (1484); and it was only by skill- 
ful management that Anne of Beaujeu, the late king's eld- 
est daughter, maintained her position as regent for her 
young brother. Anne was nearly as clever as her father, 
who once said of her, " She is the least foolish woman in 
the world, for there is no such a thing as a wise one ! " 
Although she was only twenty-two, her ascendency and 
authority proved such that she was known at court as 
" Madame la Grande," a title which she richly earned dur- 
ing her five or more years of regency. 

Because of the state of mind of the aristocracy, and the 
miserable condition of the peasantry, — many of whom were 
obliged to draw their own plows because they were too 
poor to own or feed horses or oxen, — it required all her 
dexterity to manage the complicated affairs of the realm. 
Two revolts of the nobles were headed by her brother-in- 
law, the Duke of Orleans, and backed by Maximilian and 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



214 



OLD FRANCE 



Ferdinand. They resulted in the defeat and imprison- 
ment of the Duke of Orleans, and in the triumph of the 
regent, who, pursuing her father's policy of extending the 
realm as much as possible, next planned to gain Brittany, 

which the death of the 
Duke of Brittany had 
left to a daughter. 

The heiress of Brit- 
tany, Anne, was a spir- 
ited, well-educated 
damsel, who, although 
only fourteen, was al- 
ready sought in marriage 
by many suitors, all, of 
course, anxious to be- 
come owners of her vast 
estates. The duchess, 
it is said, had seen the 
Duke of Orleans, and 
had been much im- 
pressed by this gay cav- 
alier, although he was already married to the sickly and 
deformed sister of the king. At any rate, she was in no 
hurry to marry ; but such was the eagerness of her suitors 
to gain possession of her rich inheritance, that some of 
them even prepared to carry her off by force. 

In her quandary, this young heiress therefore accepted 
the proposals of Maximilian, who, having already gained 
so much by his first marriage with Mary of Burgundy, 
was not at all loath to acquire still more, by taking as 
second wife the fair young Duchess of Brittany. Unf or- 




Anne of Brittany. 



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CHARLES VIII. (1483-1498) 215 

tunately, however, Maximilian was too busy just then with 
affairs in a remote part of his realm to do his wooing in 
person ; so, when the duchess and her councilors accepted 
his proposals, he sent a German lord to act as his proxy in 
the marriage ceremony. Anne did not like this lord's 
German manners ; and as Maximilian showed no anxiety to 
join her after the marriage, but left her exposed to all the 
trials and dangers of her position, just resentment was 
kindled in Anne's breast. 

The French king, having meantime undertaken to reign 
by himself, first set his brother-in-law, the Duke of Orleans, 
free, and then, influenced by his ambitious sister, began 
to woo Anne of Brittany,' whose nominal marriage to 
Maximilian was afterward annulled by the Pope. Charles 
VIII., who was very romantic, actually sought this lady in 
the guise of a pilgrim, to prevail upon her to favor his suit. 
He had also taken the precaution to send an army, which 
besieged the town where Anne was. 

Yielding to the doubly fervent suit of the king, Anne 
was betrothed to him three days later, — and the little 
daughter of Maximilian, who was being educated at court to 
become the king's bride, was sent home ! Anne of Brittany 
not only married the king, but promised that if Charles 
died before her, and they had no children, she would marry 
his successor, or the. heir to the throne, — a provision which 
would prevent Brittany's ever passing into the hands of a 
foreigner. 

Charles next made treaties with Ferdinand of Spain 
and Maximilian of Germany, conceding to them four of 
the provinces his father had won. He did this to secure 
the peace he needed while preparing to carry out the dream 



o. F. — 14 



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2l6 OLD FRANCE 

of his life ; for, nourished as he had been on romances of 
chivalry, he longed to distinguish himself by brilliant con- 
quests abroad. His plan was to make good his claims to 
Naples, — bequeathed by a relative, — and after having 
become master of all Italy, to conquer Constantinople and 
Palestine, thus rivaling Caesar and Alexander ! 

In 1494, therefore, the first Italian expedition set out 
with the French king at its head, and such brave men 
in the ranks as Bayard (ba-yar'), — universally known as 
" the knight without fear and without reproach ** {chevalier 
sans peur et sans reproche\ As the Italian states were 
discontented just then, the French expedition resembled a 
triumphal progress, for town after town opened its gates 
to welcome Charles as a deliverer. Even Flor'ence — 
then under the influence of Savonaro'la's religious reforms 
— hailed the French with delight. In five months' time, 
Charles entered Naples, ** where one would have thought 
he was the founder of the city," such was the joyful recep- 
tion given him ! 

As the ruler of this kingdom had fled at his approach, 
Charles took immediate possession, fancying that all his 
troubles were over. But, in spite of his first great suc- 
cesses, this Italian campaign was doomed to be an utter 
failure, for the French king himself had little idea of good 
government, and the rulers he appointed had even less. 
It soon came to pass, therefore, that the very cities which 
so gladly hailed Charles, were soon eager to renounce 
their brief allegiance to him. 

The king's homeward journey, therefore, instead of being 
a triumphal march like his advance, gradually turned 
into a retreat before a powerful and indignant Italian 



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CHARLES VIII. (1483-1498) 217 

League. In fact, when Charles arrived at Forno'vo, he had 
to wage a terrible battle against it; but here he showed 
great personal bravery, and cleverly extricated his army 
from peril (149S). 

Charles's situation, however, in the heart of an enemy's 
country, was so precarious that he was thankful to re- 
cross the Alps, virtually surrendering all his recent con- 
quests. In fact, a few months later, the former King of 
Naples could reenter his realm, which turned traitor a 
second time, and basely deserted the unpopular French 
governor. 

The sole result, therefore, of Charles VIII. 's romantic 
expedition into Italy, was a thirst for adventure and con- 
quest which was to cost France dear, besides almost ruin- 
ing Italy, in the course of what are known as the Italian 
Wars, which extended from 1494 to 1544. 

Having returned from Italy much poorer in men and 
money, Charles VIII. now seemed to repent of his rash 
venture. He was just beginning to turn his mind to home 
reforms, which promised great things for the country, when 
he was cut short by apoplexy at the age of twenty-eight. 
His last words were, " I hope never to commit another 
willful sin as long as I live." 

The reign of Charles VIII., comparatively unimportant, 
nevertheless covers an eventful period in the world's his- 
tory, for it was while he occupied the throne of France 
that Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic, that 
Cabot landed on the North American mainland, and that 
Vasco da Ga'ma discovered the sea route to India by way 
of the Cape of Good Hope. These discoveries — chang- 
ing as they did the whole aspect of the world's affairs and 

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2i8 OLD FRANCE 

giving a new impetus to commerce — are therefore con- 
sidered by some historians as the point where the Middle 
Ages end, and the Modern Times begin, especially the 
movement called the Renaissance (re-ne-saNss'), or New 
Birth of Science and Literature. 



LVIII. SECOND ITALIAN WAR 

CHARLES VIII. *s sons having all died in infancy, 
he was succeeded by his cousin and brother-in-law, 
Louis, Duke of Orleans, the first and only monarch of the 
Valois-Orleans branch. This Louis had married the 
second daughter of Louis XL, but the marriage was now 
annulled, and the new king proceeded at once to woo and 
wed Anne of Brittany, the twenty-one-year-old widow of 
his predecessor. 

Meantime, Anne had quietly withdrawn to her estates, 
where, to show her grief, she donned black garments, 
although widowed French queens had hitherto always 
worn white in token of mourning, and were hence popu- 
larly known as the White Queens {les Reines Blanches), 

Tradition relates that Louis XII. had been in love with 
Anne previous to her marriage with Charles VIII., and 
gladly took advantage of her agreement to marry her 
husband's successor, -r- should Charles VIII. die without 
children. He was also glad, of course, to reannex Brit- 
tany to the crown. 

The War in Italy, in which the nobility had eagerly 
taken part, had cost the lives of so many men, that 
Louis XII. experienced no opposition from the nobles in 



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LOUIS XII. (1498-1515) 219 

taking possession of the throne, and at his coronation was 
surrounded mostly by children and foreigners. In fact, 
the only resistance opposed to him was on the part of the 
university, which, for eight months, refused to allow him to 
introduce wise and necessary reforms in its government. 

Finding the royal coffers quite empty, at his accession, 
Louis XI I. paid out of his private purse for the funeral of 
his predecessor. Some of the lords who had opposed him 
and had helped to imprison him when he rebelled against 
Charles VI 1 1, (see page 213) were afraid lest he might 
seize this opportunity to punish them ; but he hastened to 
reassure them by publicly stating, " The King of France 
does not avenge the injuries of the Duke of Orleans ! " — a 
generous statement for which he is noted. It was not in 
words only that Louis XII. showed himself magnanimous 
and conservative, for he displaced none of the former 
king's servants, but proceeded to govern with a gentleness 
and wisdom which promised great things for the country. 

Two years after coming to the throne, Louis XII. 
deemed the time ripe to renew the conquest of Italy. 
Here, besides the right to Naples inherited from his prede- 
cessor, he also claimed Milan as heir of his grandmother 
(see page 364). He began by persuading the Swiss, the 
Venetians, and the Pope to aid in making war upon the 
reigning Duke of Milan. 

Having collected sufficient means for the campaign, — 
not by imposing new taxes, but by selling offices, — 
Louis XII. assembled a large army at Lyons, crossed the 
Alps, and attacked the Duke of Milan, who, sorely pressed 
by the Venetians on the other side, was soon obliged to 
flee. In a twenty days' campaign, Louis thus became 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



:»:?o 



OLD FRANCE 



master of the whole duchy, and could enter Milan in 

triumph ( 1 500)- 

His quickly achieved conquest was not, however, so 
easy to retain, for this king, who diminished taxes in 
France, proved very exacting in Italy. The heavily taxed 




Draining by Du aemane. 



Bayard holding the Bridge. 



Italians, feeling besides little respect for claims inherited 
from a woman, soon drove away his governor; but the 
duchy was promptly conquered by a second French army. 
The next move of the French was to secure Naples, 
which was done with the aid of the Spanish. The con- 
quered territory was divided between the allies, after much 
disputing; but before long the Spanish seized nearly all 
of it. When Louis XII. bitterly complained that for the 

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LOUIS XII. (1498-1515) 221 

second time his Spanish allies had tried to cheat him, their 
monarch impudently retorted, " No, it is the tenth ! ** 

Another French army was sent to the rescue, but the 
Spanish defeated it at the Garigliano(ga-reel-ya'no) River. 
Indeed, the army might have been utterly destroyed if it had 
not been for the French hero Bayard (ba-yar'), whoj almost 
single-handed, held the foe at bay at a bridge over the 
river. There, after accomplishing such feats of valor that 
the Spanish began to wonder whether they were dealing 
with a man or with some supernatural creature, this brave 
knight was taken captive, a calamity which immediately 
spurred his followers on to rescue and escort him back to 
their own camp in triumph, loudly proclaiming as they did 
so, that they had recovered " their true banner of honor ! *' 



LIX. DEATH OF LOUIS XII. 

THE French were obliged to retire a second time from 
southern Italy, and all the vast expenditure of men 
and money had again been in vain. Discouraged, Louis 
XII. sought the alliance of Austria, and signed the treaty 
of Blois (blwa), whereby he pledged his daughter in 
marriage to the Emperor's grandson Charles, promising 
to give her as dowry both Brittany and Burgundy. This 
treaty greatly pleased Anne of Brittany, who foresaw that 
her daughter would thus sometime rule over most of 
western Europe ; but it greatly alarmed the French people. 
At the request of the States-General, assembled at Tours 
( 1 506), the king retracted this promise, and immediately 
pledged his daughter's hand instead to his cousin and heir, 



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222 OLD FRANCE 

Francis of Angouleme (aN-goo-lim'), thus making sure that 
Brittany should always form part of France. 

It was because Louis XII. thus yielded to the wishes of 
the people — annulling a treaty which threatened to destroy 
national unity — that his grateful subjects first called him 
" Father of the People/' a title which he deserved, besides, 
for the care with which he watched over their interests. 
In fact, he was frequently taxed with doing too much for 
them, to which he invariably replied, " A good shepherd 
cannot fatten his flock too much.'* When derided, also, on 
account of the rigid economy he practiced, this monarch 
once shrewdly remarked, " I had rather make the court- 
iers laugh on account of my stinginess, than have my 
people weep on account of my extravagance ! " 

Louis XII. was ably seconded in all he tried to do in the 
line of reform by his prime minister (George of Amboise), 
in whom he had such implicit confidence, that he was in 
the habit of answering complaints by the words, "Let 
George manage that,** — an expression which has since 
become proverbial {Laissez faire d Georges), 

Although by the treaty of Blois Louis XII. formally 
renounced all claims to Naples, he maintained his hold 
upon Milan and Gen'oa, and when the latter city revolted, 
showed himself quite merciful toward the inhabitants, — 
a most unusual proceeding in those revengeful days. 
Then, joining the Pope, the Emperor, and the King of 
Spain in the League of Cambrai (caN-bre'), he suddenly 
turned against the former allies, the Venetians, whom he 
soon defeated (at Agnadello, 1 509). But this move proved 
unwise, for his new friends deserted him before long, and 
Louis thus found himself forced to send fresh troops 



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LOUIS XII. (1498-1515) 223 

into Italy to defend his possessions there against power- 
ful Venice. 

The king's nephew, the gallant young Gaston de Foix 
(gas-t6N' de fwa'), greatly distinguished himself in this war 
by saving one city and retaking another (Brescia) with 
Bayard's help. In the final assault of this city, the gal- 
lant Bayard, sorely wounded, had to be carried into the 
house of a widow. She and her daughters tenderly cared 
for him, and in return a company of his soldiers guarded 
the house and protected its inmates. Before Bayard left 
them, he further showed his gratitude for their care by 
refusing the money they offered as the usual ransom for 
their lives, and by generously providing for their future 
safety and welfare. 

His wound having healed at last, Bayard hastened on to 
rejoin his daring young leader at Raven'na, where a terrible 
battle was fought, and where Gaston is said to have 
plunged into the fra.y, crying, " Let him that loves me 
follow me!" But, although he again won a brilliant 
victory, it was this time at the cost of his life, his corpse 
being found on the battlefield, pierced by twenty-two 
wounds. Bayard, and all the army, mourned this young 
prince sorely, declaring that there was no telling what he 
would have accomplished had he not been cut off thus 
when still a mere boy, for his years scarcely equaled the 
number of honorable wounds beneath which he suc- 
cumbed. After the death of this hero, the fortunes of 
France in Italy waned rapidly, and when the Swiss joined 
her enemies, Louis soon lost his last hold upon the country. 

Meantime, the English allies of the Italians, hoping to 
create a diversion, invaded France and won a battle (at 



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224 OLD FRANCE 

Guinegate), derisively known in history as " The Battle of 
the Spurs," because so many French knights fled on 
this occasion. Bayard, who took part in this engagement 
and did not know how to flee, was made prisoner, and so 
had to be ransomed. But it was mainly because the Swiss 
were threatening France on the east, and the Spaniards on 
the south, that the king deemed it proper to make peace. 

By dealing separately with his various foes, Louis XII. 
succeeded in obtaining fairly good terms. He was, how- 
ever, compelled to relinquish all rights to Italy, and Anne 
of Brittany having died, to cement peace with the English 
by marrying Mary Tudor, a young sister of Henry VIII. 
We are told that this gay young princess consented to 
marry such an old king, only upon condition that she 
would, at his death, be allowed to espouse any one she 
pleased, for she was already deeply enamored with a 
young nobleman at her brother's court. 

When she came to France, ac merry damsel, the old 
French, king was obliged to attend so many festivities and 
to keep such late hours, that his already weak health 
gave way, and thus Mary soon found herself free to follow 
her heart's choice. After a very brief period of mourning, 
therefore, Mary Tudor married her first lover, being twice 
a bride in the short space of six months. Her romantic 
story is entertainingly told in a novel entitled, W/ien Knight- 
hood was in Flower^ which young people generally like 
to read. 

Although Louis XII. married again late in life for polit- 
ical reasons, he was none the less faithful to the mem9ry 
of Queen Anne of Brittany ; for he is said to have begged 
with his dying breath to be laid in her tomb, one of the 



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LOUIS XII. (1498-1515) 



225 



finest to be seen in the Abbey of St. Denis, the royal 
mausoleum just outside of Paris. 

Louis XII. is the first Capetian king whose portrait inva- 
riably figures upon his coins. France also dates her first 
real navy from the 
reign of this wise 
king. He was 
greatly beloved by 
the people, whose 
industries he fos- 
tered, and whose 
rights he stanchly 
upheld. In fact, 
after he had passed 
away, his subjects 
were often heard to 
sigh, "Would that 
we were back again 
to the times of good 
Louis XIL!" 

The Italian Wars 
under Louis XII., 
disastrous as they 
were in some re- 
spects, proved very 
advantageous to France in others. The Italian Renais- 
sance had begun nearly a century before, and all manner 
of new ideas and of works of art were brought to France 
by the returning warriors. Architects, sculptors, and paint- 
ers were also imported, the Castle of Amboise (aN-bwaz') 
arose on the Loire, churches and cathedrals were erected 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 




Statue of Louis XII. at the ChSteau of Blois. 



226 OLD FRANCE 

or embellished, and a tremendous impetus was given to 
all branches of art, science, and literature. 



LX. FRANCIS I. 

AS Louis XIL left no male descendant, the crown at 
his death passed on to his next of kin and son-in- 
law, Francis of Angouleme, known in history as Francis L 
A dashing, energetic, handsome youth of twenty-one, lov- 
ing pleasure, letters, and art, Francis was the very king 
to charm rich and poor. It is said, " Never was king of 
France in whom the nobles took such delight ! *' Never- 
theless, Louis XIL wisely foresaw that so brilliant .a 
youth might not prove a wise ruler; for he once shook 
his head and shrewdly remarked, " This big fellow is go- 
ing to spoil everything," — a prediction which very nearly 
came true. 

Brought up by an adoring mother, and the constant 
companion of a talented sister who was equally his slave, 
Francis was the typical spoiled child, who preferred pleas- 
ure to work, and romances of chivalry to any other read- 
ing or study. Having thus never been denied anything in 
boyhood, it is no wonder that he grew up self-indulgent 
and passionate, and that at his coronation he thoughtlessly 
squandered all his predecessor's savings in mere revelry. 

Having been accustomed to associate with clever, and 
charming women at home, Francis first desired ladies to 
appear publicly at his court, remarking gallantly, "A 
court without women is like a year without spring, and a 
spring without roses ! " Still, he was not always so com- 

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FRANCIS I. (1515-1547) 227 

plimentary to the fair sex, for he used to consider women 
most changeable, and wrote once on a pane of glass in one 
of his castles : ** Women often vary ; a man's very foolish 
to trust them." 

Although his queen — Claude of France, daughter of 
Anne of Brittany — was a quiet and very retiring woman, 
there were many brilliant ladies at Francis's court. One of 
the royal favorites was Dian'a of Poitiers, a lady noted for 
her beautiful complexion which all the other dames envied. 
Because Diana once informed them that her fine color was 
due mainly to exercise and plentiful bathing, court ladies 
began to use more soap and water than had hitherto been 
their custom ; for in those days cleanliness was almost 
equal to ungodliness. In fact, Francis I.'s sister is said to 
have remarked on one occasion, while exhibiting her 
shapely hands : " Look at these lovely hands of mine ; they 
have not been washed for eight days, yet I will wager 
they outshine yours ! " So, although Diana of Poitiers 
may have done much harm to this king and to his son, she 
did considerable good to the human race by inducing 
French ladies to bathe more frequently. 

The new king, eager to distinguish himself and thirsting 
for adventures and a stage upon which to play a brilliant 
part, soon decided to renew the war in Italy, where he 
hoped to retrieve his predecessor's losses. Leaving his 
mother at the head of affairs at home, therefore, Francis 
started out bravely to win the glory he coveted in foreign 
lands. 

Instead of following the usual route, Francis scaled 
the Alps by means of a pass known only to herdsmen 
and smugglers, through which, after surmounting almost 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 




("8) 



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FRANCIS I. (1515-1547) 229 

incredible difficulties and blasting a way for his cannon, he 
conducted' an army down into Italy. This move greatly 
amazed the Italian general Colon'na, who, on hearing that 
the French were at his gates, wonderingly exclaimed: 
" What ! Have they flown over the mountains ? ** 

Soon after his arrival in Italy, Francis came face to face 
with the Swiss mercenaries at Marignano (ma-reen-ya'no, 
151 5), where a tremendous battle was fought. The king 
himself took a brilliant part in the fray, and slept on a 
cannon when nightfall checked this " Battle of Giants.** 
On this battlefield, also, King Francis I. was knighted by 
Bayard, the sword used on this occasion being laid aside 
as a priceless relic, never to be drawn again save " against 
the infidel.** On account of this picturesque ceremony, 
and because of his many chivalric instincts, Francis was 
often called "the knightly king.** 

By the brilliant victory of Marignano, Francis recovered 
possession of Milan, and induced the Swiss to sign a per- 
petual peace with France, — a treaty which was never 
broken, and which enabled French kings thereafter to 
have large bodies of Swiss mercenaries in their service 
until the outbreak of the Revolution. 

The Pope also became an ally of Francis, and although 
the Concor'dat (papal treaty or agreement, 1516), which 
replaced the Pragmatic Sanction (see page 2CX5), tried to 
restrict the king*s privilege of naming all bishops and 
abbots in his realm, French rulers continued to exercise 
this power. Neither Francis nor his successors, however, 
were sufficiently careful in their choice of persons to 
occupy such influential positions. 

By this first campaign of Francis I. in Italy, France 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



230 OLD FRANCE 

gained territory, wealth, and much glory, so the young 
conqueror returned home, one of the marked men of his 
age. He brought with him fine paintings by Raph'ael, 
and statues by Michelan'gelo, as well as hosts of artists to 
decorate the new buildings which he was planning. Thus 
the Renaissance, or New Birth of arts and letters, con- 
tinued to make its way in France, which, at this epoch, 
could boast of being the foremost power in Europe. 



LXI. RIVALRY OF KINGS 

FRANCIS was not the only ambitious prince of his 
time, for Henry VIII. was then monarch of Eng- 
land, and Charles of Austria sole heir to the vast posses- 
sions of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, as well as to 
Austria and the Netherlands. When Emperor Maximilian 
died, therefore, in 1519, these three young rulers became 
rival candidates for the imperial crown. The electors 
awarded it to Charles, — who thus became the Emperor 
Charles V. Francis had previously said in his chivalric 
way, "We are two gallants courting the same mistress, 
and he who fails will have no excuse for ill-temper *' ; but 
he changed his mind and became alarmed when he found 
himself surrounded by the lands of his powerful rival. 

In fact, this election influenced European policy for the 
next hundred and forty years. It determined Francis to 
begin what is known as the " Struggle for the Balance of 
Power," because he foresaw that Charles would soon try 
to become master of all western Europe, and would want 
to absorb France in the process. 



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FRANCIS I. (1515-1547) 231 

In hopes of securing the aid and alliance of England in 
his plan to check Austria, Francis arranged a personal in- 
terview with Henry VIII., to take place near Calais, which 
was then under English rule. The two young monarchs, 
who were equally vain and extravagantly fond of display, 
met therefore on a plain, since known as the " Field of the 
Cloth of Gold,'* because their tents were of this precious 
tissue, and all their appointments of unequaled luxury and 
splendor. The nobles in both suites are said to have 
" carried their mills and castles on their backs,'* because 
they heavily mortgaged their possessions so as to appear 
to brilliant advantage, in what is also known as " the last 
feudal parade.** 

Unfortunately, Francis succeeded on this occasion in 
outshining his guest and rival, not only in costly display, 
but also in personal strength and agility. Rashly setting 
aside the extreme formality with which the first interview 
was conducted, he insisted upon free and easy intercourse, 
and one day even proposed wrestling bouts and tests of 
skill, in all of which he came off victor. Now Henry 
VIII. was quite as vain and spoiled as Francis himself, 
so did not enjoy being thus eclipsed, and the inter- 
view resulted in little save vague promises on the part of 
Henry, and in bankruptcy for many of the courtiers who 
had taken a prominent part in the festivities. The famous 
magnificences of the " Field of the Cloth of Gold ** are 
represented on a picturesque old house in Rouen, where 
they are still frequently admired by the travelers who pass 
through this interesting city. 

Charles V., wiser or more diplomatic than either of his 
former rivals for the imperial crown, went to visit Henry 
o. F.— 15 

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232 OLD FRANCE 

— whose first wife, Catherine, was Charles's aunt — without 
any fuss at all, and not only avoided hurting the English 
king's pride, but cleverly won the support of the prime 
minister Wolsey by promising to help him to become Pope. 
Thus he succeeded in forming with his uncle a treaty of 
alliance, whose great aim was to conquer France, dividing 
its lands between England and Austria. 

Instead of there being wars in Italy only, therefore, 
France was attacked in the north by the Imperialists (the 
troops of the Emperor Charles V.), but their advance 
was checked by the brave Bayard (Mezi^res, 1521). The 
next year, the French with their Swiss allies were sorely de- 
feated in Italy. Just as Francis was preparing to cross the 
Alps a second time, to avenge this defeat, he learned that 
the Constable of Bourbon (boor'bun), one of his chief 
nobles, had suddenly turned traitor ! 

The defection of this nobleman, which proved a grievous 
blow to France, was due mainly to the fact that Bourbon 
was vain and overambitious. He was proud of his vast 
estates, part of which he had gained by marriage. But 
after his wife died, childless, leaving him her property, 
the king's mother claimed these lands as next of kin. 
The king favored his mother's claim, and Bourbon for- 
got, in his resentment, what was due to his country, if 
not to his king, and basely deserted the French to join 
Charles V. Henry VIII., who had noticed Bourbon's 
vanity and ambition at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, had 
shrewdly remarked to Francis one day, ** If I had a subject 
like that, I would not leave his head very long on his 
shoulders ! " And Francis now had ample cause to regret 
not having paid heed to that advice. 



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FRANCIS I. (1515-1547) 233 

Nevertheless, a French army was sent to Italy; but it 
was defeated and Bayard mortally wounded while cover- 
ing the retreat of his friends. As this " knight without 
fear and without reproach " lay dying under a tree, gazing 
devoutly at his sword hilt, — which, being cross-shaped, 
had been set up before his dim eyes, — the enemy came 
rushing toward him, full of pity and admiration, and tried 
to ease his last moments on earth by erecting a tent over 
his head. Even the traitor Constable of Bourbon drew 
near to express the pity he felt; but the virtuous knight 
firmly declined all his offers of assistance, saying : '* It is 
not I, but you, who ought to be pitied. You, who are 
fighting against your king, your country, and your oafth ! ** 

After a few hours of extreme suffering. Bayard passed 
away, the last words he uttered being "God and my 
country," which show that to the end he was loyal to 
both. It is said that he alone was worth a regiment, and 
he has often been called " the last of the knights." The 
tidings of his death spread mourning throughout the 
country, and Francis once remarked with heartfelt regret : 
" Alas, I have lost a great captain. He carried with him 
into the grave many of the brightest jewels which might 
have been added to my crown ! " 

The memory of this true knight and virtuous French- 
man has always proved an inspiration and example to his 
countrymen, who have honored him by a fine grave in his 
birthplace at Grenoble, and who continue to prize his name 
and noble sayings, among which were the following : *' Our 
deeds must speak for us and claim reward. It is finer to 
deserve favors without getting them, than to obtain them 
without being worthy of them." 

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234 OLD FRANCE 

Having defeated the French in Italy, the Imperialists 
entered France, with the intention of carrying all before 
them and sweeping on to Paris; but at Marseilles 
Bourbon met unexpected resistance. This city h^ld out 
against his forces for forty days, while even women and 
children worked with heroic perseverance to strengthen 
th^ fortifications as fast as they were weakened. The 
brave resistance of Marseilles not only frustrated the plans 
of the foes, but enabled Francis I. to collect an army and 
hasten to the rescue of his loyal people. The invaders 
were driven back into Italy, and Francis quickly followed 
and captured Milan. 

Then, dividing his army into two bands, Francis sent 
one ofiE to reconquer Naples, and with the other met the 
Imperialists in the memorable battle of Pavia (pa-vee'a, 
1525). Here the French were greatly outnumbered, and 
in spite of prodigies of valor on the part of king and 
army, they experienced a terrible defeat. Francis him- 
self fell into the hands of his foes, and when summoned 
to surrender to Bourbon, haughtily replied, "Better die 
than yield to a traitor! " Still, he consented to give up 
his sword to another officer, and that very evening wrote 
to inform his mother of the disaster, stating in his letter 
that "all is lost save honor and life, which we saved!" 
Tradition has drawn from this letter the time-honored epi- 
gram, which you will often hear quoted, " All is lost save 
honor ! " {totit est perdu fors r honnewr). 

After being detained in Italy for a short time. King 
Francis was conducted to Madrid', where, instead of being 
treated with the courtesy and honor which he expected, -— 
and which were his due, — he was locked up in a dungeon, 

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FRANCIS I. (1515-1547) 235 

so dark and unwholesome that he soon became dangerously 
ill. This severity was used in hopes of forcing him to 
sign a disgraceful treaty; but when Charles V. suddenly 
learned that Francis was about to abdicate in favor of his 
son, and when the prisoner became so ill that there seemed 
danger lest he should die, a beneficial change was made in 
his treatment. He was also allowed to see his devoted 
sister, who came from her kingdom of Navarre on purpose 
to visit him, and he was granted his first interview with his 
rival and jailer, Charles V. 

It was only after this momentous colloquy that Francis 
decided to yield to humiliating conditions to recover his 
freedom. He therefore signed the treaty of Madrid ( 1 526), 
whereby he relinquished all his rights to Italy, pardoned 
and reinstated the traitor Bourbon, agreed to give up 
Flanders, Burgundy, and other territories, pledged himself 
to marry a sister of Charles V., now that Queen Claude 
was dead, and surrendered his two sons as hostages. 

On the frontier between France and Spain Francis I. 
was merely allowed time to embrace these children, who 
were immedi^ely conveyed to Madrid. They were locked 
up in a prison as dismal as that in which their father had 
languished, and kept there without means of amusement 
or education, until it is said they forgot even their native 
language ! 

Meanwhile, their selfish father, having reached French 
soil, sprang on a fine horse and galloped off, exclaiming, 
" Now I am once more king ! " 

Although Francis had solemnly sworn to keep his 
engagements with Charles V., he had no intention of doing 
so, as you will see. 

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236 OLD FRANCE 

LXII. ACHIEVEMP:NTS of FRANCIS I. 

AS soon as the news of Francis's captivity spread 
abroad, all Europe was deeply moved, for it now 
seemed as if France were in imminent danger of extinction, 
and as if Charles V. might realize his great ambition and 
become sole master of all western Europe. Feeling that 
England might be the next to suffer, Henry VIII. suddenly 
decided to desert his former ally Charles V., and to unite 
forces instead with Francis I., as did various Italian cities 
also. 

Encouraged by the support of these allies, and unwilling 
to execute a treaty wrung from him by force, Francis in- 
duced the Burgundian notables to declare that a King of 
France had no right to yield territory belonging to the 
country. This suited Francis exactly, because while he 
claimed to be chivalrous in the extreme, he never felt any 
scruples about breaking promises when he found it ex- 
pedient to do so. But his refusal to respect the treaty of 
Madrid necessarily brought about a second war with 
Charles V., now the most powerful sovereign seen in 
Europe since the days of Charlemagne. 

The greatest event in the course of the Second War for 
the Balance of Power was the famous siege and sack of 
Rome, which fell into the hands of the Imperialists and 
was for eight days a prey to ruthless pillagers. An enor- 
mous amount of damage was done to the Eternal City, but 
Bourbon, who led the troops to the assault, gained no ad- 
vantage from this triumph, as he was slain on the first of 
the scaling ladders by a missile hurled by the artist Cellini 
(chel-lee'nee). 



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FRANCIS I. (1515-1547) 237 

The war lasted three years (i 526-1 529), and was con- 
cluded by "the Peace of the Ladies," negotiated by Fran- 
cis's mother and Charles V.'s aunt. It provided that 
Francis should give up Flanders and all claim to Italy, 
but that Burgundy should remain in Francis's hands, and 
that this king should also recover possession of his hostage 
sons by paying a large ransom. 

During the period of peace which followed, Francis I. 
freely indulged his taste for pleasure, art, and literature. 
While he deserves great blame for the license of his own 
manners, and for the lack of morals which he encouraged 
at his court, he also deserves great credit for fostering 
science and literature, whereby he earned in France the 
title " King of Culture." 

It was he who encouraged the coming of many promi- 
nent artists (including Leonardo da Vinci, the painter of 
"The Last Supper," and Cellini, who cast the silver statue 
of Perseus). He also brought back from his Italian cam- 
paigns many art treasures to adorn his castles land rare 
books for his library. 

Francis was, besides, most lavish of the funds obtained 
as booty, and a great lover of everything beautiful. Thus 
it was that he erected the palaces of Fontainebleau (f6N- 
ten-blo') and of St. Germain (saN-zhar-maN^), rebuilt the 
Louvre, Pantheon, and city hall in Paris, and created near 
the banks of the Loire famous fairylike castles (Chambord, 
Chenonceaux, Chaumont, and Azay-le-Rideau), all of which 
are romantically situated, decorated in magnificent style, 
and bear his favorite emblem, the salamander. 

Francis I. has also the honor of being the founder of one 
of France's great seaports, Le Havre (le av'r'), which ever 



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238 



OLD FRANCE 



since 1517 has kept increasing in size and importance, 
until it is now one of the most thriving Atlantic com- 
mercial seaports, and one of the gateways through which 
thousands of tourists yearly enter the fascinating country 
of France. 




Castle of Chambord. 



Literature made great progress in France during this 
reign. Among the great men of the time were three poets 
(Amyot, Ronsard, and Marot), and one very famous satir- 
ical prose writer (Rabelais). This was the epoch, too, 
when several religious orders were founded, — including 
that of the Jesuits, — all of which were to exert great 
influence in various Catholic countries. 

During the period of peace between the second and 
third wars with Charles V., Francis arranged for his son's 



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FRANCIS I. (15 15-1547) 239 

marriage with Catherine de' Medici (da mSd'e-chee), a 
niece of the Pope, and daughter of the famous Duke of 
Florence, Lorenzo de* Medici. This marriage assured 
France, not only the alliance of the Pope, but an immense 
sum of money, which was very welcome, as the king and 
his sons were always short of funds. 

Vast changes were now taking place in France. The 
Renaissance was in full progress, and many new discoveries 
were being made. Francis showed interest in them all. 
When he heard that the Spaniards and Portuguese were 
rapidly gaining wealth from their lands in America, he de- 
cided that he too was entitled to a share of the New 
World, saying in playful defiance : " Just show me the clause 
in the will of Father Adam which divides America between 
you (Portuguese and Spaniards), and excludes the French ! *' 
French fishermen therefore visited the coasts of New'f ound- 
land and Labrador in quest of cod, and Verraza'no ex- 
plored a great part of the coast, to which he first gave 
the name of New France. In 1535 Cartier(car-tya') raised 
the French standard in Canada, which was called New 
France, and from that time until its conquest by the Eng- 
lish (1763) this part of America was an important French 
colony.^ 



LXIIL THE END OF FRANCIS I.'S REIGN 

WHILE Francis was gradually changing the face 
of the country by his manifold improvements, 
his rival Charles V. was covering himself with glory by 

^ Story of the Thirteen Colonies^ page 213. 



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240 OLD FRANCE 

besieging Tunis, the stronghold of the Mussulman pirates, 
whence he freed twenty thousand Christian captives. The 
Emperor's power and influence were greatly increased by 
this triumph. As he passed from one to another of his 
vast dominions, he made it a point to converse with each 
nation in its own language ; for he was a famous linguist, 
and he was often heard to declare, " One is as many times 
a man as one knows different languages ! '' 

Francis was jealous, and seeing the influence of his 
rival constantly increasing, he dreaded evil consequences 
for himself and for France. He therefore gladly seized 
the pretext of the murder of one of his agents at Milan to 
begin the Third War for the Balance of Power against 
Charles V. 

Meanwhile, the French king had sought the alliance of 
Turkey, justifying himself for associating with unbelievers 
by saying : " When the wolves attack the flock, one has 
the right to call the dogs to help ! ** This alliance, which 
sorely shocked Christian Europe, won for France the ex- 
clusive privilege of trading in the eastern seas, as well as 
that of protecting all Christians in the East and the holy 
places visited so frequently by pilgrims. 

As soon as the war broke out, Charles hastened to in- 
vade Provence, where he would doubtless have been suc- 
cessful, had not the French general devastated the country 
ahead of him so thoroughly that he could find no provi- 
sions to feed his army, and was obliged to retreat to es- 
cape starvation. 

It was during the Third War for the Balance of Power 
that a great French physician, Ambrose Par6 (pa-ra'), 
made a discovery which was to be of lasting benefit in 



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FRANCIS I. (1515-1547) 241 

medicine. You see, people in those days were very lit- 
eral, and because the good Samaritan in the New Testa- 
ment poured oil in the wounds of the man who had fallen 
by the wayside, it was customary to treat even gunshot 
wounds by that primitive method. At one battle, however, 
the supply of oil was so limited that Pare and his as3ist- 
ant physicians soon had none left. The great doctor then 
gazed at the wounded in despair, having no hope of sav- 
ing them; yet, unable to stand by inactive while people 
were suffering, he promptly soused bandages in cold water, 
and proceeded skillfully to bind up the wounds with them, 
saying compassionately, "We can at least make them as 
comfortable as possible, and ease their departure from this 
world by keeping these bandages moist." 

He was greatly surprised to discover that the patients 
thus tended had less fever, and recovered much faster, 
than those who had been doctored in the old way with oil. 
The result of this experiment was that no oil was there- 
after poured into wounds. Par6 also has the credit of 
making other helpful discoveries in medicine, which are 
connected with his name. 

The third war against Charles V. ended with the treaty 
of Nice (nees, 1538), which provided for a ten years* truce 
between the two kings. Soon after this, Charles V., wish- 
ing to proceed from Spain to Flanders, begged Francis I.'s 
permission to cross France. The king's fool, on hearing 
of this proposal, appeared at court with a huge book under 
his arm, and when his master smilingly inquired why he 
carried one so large, promptly said : " To keep a record of 
all the fools, and I have inscribed the name of Charles V. 
at the head of my list ! " 



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242 



OLD FRANCE 



Francis, amused by this sally, good-naturedly inquired, 
" But what will you do if I allow him to pass through my 
dominions unharmed ? " 

"I shall efface his name, your majesty, and inscribe 

yours there in its 
stead," promptly re- 
plied the jester, who, 
according to the 
custom of the day, 
was never rebuked 
or punished for any- 
thing he chose to 
say or do. 

Having obtained 
permission to cross 
France, Charles V. 
began his long jour- 
ney ; yet, remem- 
bering vividly how 
unkindly he had 
treated the French 
king at Madrid, he 
never felt quite at 
ease while in this 
rival's power. It is 
even said that one 
day, when he was riding out, one of the young princes 
sprang up behind him on his horse, and flinging his arms 
around him playfully cried, "Now you are my prisoner! " 
upon which Charles turned ghastly pale, not realizing at 
once that this was only a joke. 




Painting by Gros. 

Visit of Francis I. and Charles V. at St. Denis. 



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FRANCIS I. (1515-1547) 243 

On another occasion Francis made Charles very uncom- 
fortable by pointing to one of his favorites and remarking : 
"You see that fair lady, my brother? She is of the opin- 
ion that I ought not to allow you to leave Paris until you 
have atoned for the treaty of Madrid/' But this time 
Charles kept his presence of mind, for he merely replied : 
" If the advice is good, brother, it should be followed ! " 
Still, he was very careful, shortly after, to conciliate the 
king's favorite by dropping a beautiful diamond ring into 
the basin which she held for him while he washed his 
hands, refusing to take it back again and gallantly bidding 
her keep it in memory of him. 

The ten years' truce, provided by the treaty of Nice, 
lasted only four, a mere pretext causing hostilities to break 
forth afresh. A Combined force of Turks and Frenchmen 
captured Nice, and a French army won a brilliant victory 
in Italy (C(6risoles). This war was ended the same year 
by a treaty, none of whose provisions were respected by 
either party. 

It was during the reign of Francis I. that the Protestant 
Reformation began in Germany. Cal'vin, the French re- 
former, dedicated his chief work to Francis, but he never 
won the king's favor, and soon found himself banished 
from France. The policy of Francis was to persecute 
the Protestants in his own kingdom, while encouraging 
them abroad. His purpose in Sending support to them 
abroad was to stir up as much trouble as possible for his 
rival, Charles V. 

In his premature and embittered old age Francis per- 
secuted the French Protestants more severely than before. 
In the southwest were many Walden'ses, people who had 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



244 OLD FRANCE 

long followed the teachings of an earlier reformer named 
Waldo. Because they now joined the Protestant move- 
ment, Francis ordered the sect suppressed (1545). Thus 
twenty-two villages were either 'burned or otherwise de- 
stroyed, hundreds of people slain, and many Waldenses 
forced to flee to the mountains, making their way thence 
out of the country as best as they could.^ 

Francis was always a most arbitrary ruler. All his de- 
crees were signed not only by his name, but with the 
haughty formula, " For such is my good pleasure ! " It is 
on that account that he is said to be the founder of the 
Old Rule or Old Regime (ra-zheem'), according to which 
the king had absolute authoi:ity, ruling by divine right, 
unchecked by Parliament or States-General. 

Because of his many wars, his love of display, and his 
extensive buildings, Francis was always in need of money. 
To secure funds, he sold offices, and started the public 
debt, which is now greater than that of any other country, 
although the people of France are wealthier, on the aver- 
age, than those of other nations. 

Francis, who was also known as " Father of Letters," 
not only made French the literary language of the country, 
but had all the laws drawn up in French instead of in 
Latin. He also founded the royal printing press and the 
College of France, and greatly enlarged the royal library. 
A great reader himself, he is said to have perused many of 
the works of the great reformers (Waldo, Luther, Zwingli, 
and Calvin), but he remained a Catholic, and made use of 
all his power to maintain Catholicism in France. 

1 Read In His Name by E. E. Hale. 

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HENRY II. (1547-1559) • 245 

LXIV. THE REIGN OF HENRY II. 

WHEN Francis I. lay on his deathbed (1547), he 
called his son and heir to his side, and solemnly 
parted from him, saying : " My son, I have been a great 
sinner. My passions led me astray. Avoid this, Henry. 
If I have done well, follow that, not the evil ! " 

This was sound advice, but unfortunately Henry was 
not the sort of man to take it to heart or put it into 
practice. Not only had he inherited all his father's strong 
passions and luxurious tastes, but he had received a very 
inferior education, and was, besides, entirely under the in- 
fluence of Diana of Poitiers, who had been his father's 
favorite at one time. A very witty and handsome, yet 
wholly unprincipled* woman, Diana did not scruple to 
play the leading part at court, and to make the young 
king neglect his wife, — Catherine de' Medici, — to whom, 
as you have seen, this prince had been married in early 
youth. 

On coming to the throne, Henry II. continued his 
father's policy to a certain extent ; yet, instead of main- 
taining the old ministers in office, he thoughtlessly encour- 
aged the Guise (gii-eez') and Montmoren'cy families, against 
whom his father had particularly warned him, doubtless 
foreseeing that they would soon become powerful enough 
to prove a menace to the throne. 

At the very beginning of his reign Henry II. had to put 
down a rebellion which occurred in the region of the Cha- 
rente (sha-raNt') in southern France, still noted for its salt 
marshes. The people there, infuriated by the heavy salt 
tax, slew the tax collectors, and flung their bodies into the 

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246 OLD FRANCE 

river, crying derisively, **Go, ye wicked tax collectors, 
and salt the fish of the Charente ! " 

Such conduct could not, of course, be condoned. The 
king's troops soon severely punished these rebels, burning 
three of the ringleaders alive, and saying, " Go, ye rebels, 
and grill the fish of the Charente, which ye salted with the 
bodies of your king's officers, rabid hounds that ye are ! '* 

This was still, you see, an age of retaliation, so it will 
not surprise you to hear that Henry II. was anxious to con- 
tinue the bitter struggle which his father had begun with 
the House of Austria. He began by courting an alliance 
with the Protestants in Germany, although he discouraged 
tlie reformed religion in his own realm, and severely per- 
secuted all those who professed it. On one occasion he is 
even said to have invited his court to witness the burning 
of some heretics, the court ladies taking particular pleas- 
ure in such grim diversions, and thereby showing how far 
from civilized they really were, in spite of the fine man- 
ners on which they prided themselves. But the burning 
of men and women who refused to obey the Catholic 
Church, and the public destruction by fire of " heretical " 
books, was then considered so praiseworthy that such a 
deed was called an " act of faith " (auto-da-f^). In certain 
other countries, where the Protestants had the upper hand, 
it was likewise considered a duty to persecute Catholics, 
and to destroy " papist " books and works of art. 

Henry II., like the three preceding kings, waged war in 
Italy, but unlike them, he also tried to round out his lands 
on the northeast. He took forcible possession of the 
bishoprics of Metz, Toul (tool), and Verdun (vSr-duN') on 
the frontier, thus rousing Charles V.'s wrath to such an 



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HENRY II. (1547-1559) 247 

extent that he soon appeared with an army to recover pos- 
session of these places. But Metz was so ably defended by 
the Duke of Guise that Charles could not obtain any ad- 
vantage. Besides, the season was unfavorable, and the 
imperial host was ravaged by disease, so that Charles V. is 
said to have lost no less than forty thousand men in the 
course of this one siege. Obliged to raise it on this ac- 
count, he bitterly exclaimed, referring to his own advanced 
years and to his youthful antagonist : " I now see that 
Fortune is like the rest of her sex; she favors young men 
and disdains those who are getting on in years ! " 

The city of Metz, which was taken by the French in 
1552, remained in the hands of the French until 1870, 
when the Germans finally succeeded in recovering posses- 
sion of it, after many vain attempts in the course of the 
intervening years. 

A few years after the capture of Metz, Charles V., the 
great opponent of France, abdicated, leaving his vast estates 
to his brother and his son. Thus the latter, Philip XL, 
became master of Spain, Holland, Flanders, Italy, and 
America, and by his marriage with Mary Tudor, Queen 
of England, soon secured the aid of that country also for 
the new campaign he was planning against France. 

The united English and Spanish forces entered France 
on the northwest, and soon after won a brilliant battle at 
St. Quentin (saN-kaN-taN', 1557). Had they been wise 
enough to take immediate advantage of this victory, they 
might have marched straight on to Paris ; but they stopped 
to besiege a fortified town, and were detained there some 
time by an able French general, thus giving the King 
of France a chance to raise a new army wherewith to' 

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248 OLD FRANCE 

defend his capital. The enemy were th6n forced to leave 
France without accomplishing much, in spite of their 
grand victory, which Philip II. commemorated by erecting 
the Esco'rial Palace in Spain. 

The French soon after wiped out the shame of this de- 
feat by recapturing Calais, which had belonged to the 
English for two hundred and ten years. As you may re- 
member, Edward III. had obtained possession of it after a 
nine months' siege (p. 151), but the French, under the 
Duke of Guise, recovered it by a bold dash in less than 
nine days. Thus England lost her last stronghold on 
French soil, a loss which Queen Mary felt so keenly that 
she mournfully declared : " After my death you will find 
* Calais * engraved on my heart ! *' ^ 

The war with Philip II. closed with a treaty (Cateau- 
Cambr^sis, 1559) which ended the long series of disastrous 
Italian Wars waged by Charles VIII., Louis XII., Fran- 
cis L, and Henry 11. By this treaty France was assured 
the continued possession of the towns of Metz, Toul, and 
Verdun ; but she abandoned Italy, which remained mainly 
in the power of Austria most of the time tmtil 1859. 

During these Italian Wars, which extended over a period 
of sixty-five years, the French marched four times to 
Naples, and repeatedly conquered much of the peninsula, 
but each time soon lost control of the land again, owing 
principally to their unjust treatment of the people. It has 
been claimed, therefore, that these Italian Wars resulted 
in nothing but a series of French graves, extending the whole 
length of the peninsula. But the fact remains that the 
French brought back from those campaigns mainy priceless 

1 Story of the English, pp. 1 56- 1 5 7, 232. , 



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HENRY II. (1547-1559) 249 

notions of art, science, and literature, which quickened 
progress in France, and brought about the Age of the 
Renaissance in that country. Not only were the fine arts 
of painting, sculpture, architecture, and music encouraged, 
but the modern theater was bom in France at this epoch 
also ; for the old mysteries, or religious plays, ceased to be 
represented in public, and were replaced by classic tragedies, 
the first and most famous of which was Cleopatra, 

One of the clauses of the last treaty with Philip II pro- 
vided that peace should be cemented by a double marriage, 
the king giving his sister to the Duke of Savoy', — leader 
of the Spanish and English forces at St. Quentin, — and 
his daughter to Philip II. of Spain, a widower since Queen 
Mary's death. In honor of this double royal wedding 
a great tournament was held in Paris, in which the king 
and all the most influential nobles of his court personally 
took part. 

The jousting had lasted many hours, everything had 
passed off successfully, and the combatants were already 
leaving the lists, when Henry II., spying two unbroken 
lances, suddenly challenged his captain of the guards, 
Montgom'ery, to run a tilt with him. Both lances were 
shivered at the first shock, but Montgomery failed to raise 
quickly enough the butt end of his broken shaft. A 
splinter entered through the king's visor and, piercing his 
eye, inflicted such a severe wound that he died nine days 
later. 

The unfortunate outcome of this tournament put an end 
to all such celebrations for the court. Henry left his king- 
dom one of the strongest and richest countries in Europe, 
but his death was a severe loss : for many years to come, 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



2SO OLD FRANCE 

France was to have only minor or incapable kings, being 
governed mainly by the cruel and crafty Catherine de' 
Medici. 



LXV. A YOUNG KING AND QUEEN 

WHEN Henry II. died, at the age of forty, he left 
four sons, three of whom were destined to rule over 
France, but none of whom had either good health, great intel- 
ligence, adequate training, or even good morals. His im- 
mediate successor was Francis II., then only sixteen years 
of age, a weak and wavering prince, entirely subject to his 
beautiful young wife, Mary Stuart. 

Francis II. took no active part in state affairs, but de- 
voted instead all his small stock of strength to the light 
pleasures which found favor in the eyes of his beautiful 
young wife. Queen of Scotland in her own right ever 
since infancy, and brought up at the frivolous French court, 
Mary Stuart, at seventeen, could not reasonably be expected 
to show much decision of character or sedateness, nor could 
she offer sufficient resistance to the subtle flattery of the 
gay courtiers by whom she was surrounded. It is natural, 
therefore, that she and her young husband should gladly 
have intrusted all the troublesome affairs of state to her 
uncles, the Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorraine, 
who thus became, for a time, the real rulers of France. 

Now the Guises were stanch Catholics, and as such 
saw with displeasure the increase of the Protestant party. 
At this time the French Protestants were greatly en- 
couraged by the fact that the chiefs of the House of 
Bourbon — close kin to the royal family — had joined 

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FR.\NCIS II. (1559-1560) 



251 



their ranks. Because the Bourbons were their leaders, 
the Protestants fancied they should have some influence 
at court ; but they found before long that it was difficult 
either to approach the monarch, or to gain a fair hearing. 
Then they rashly decided to take matters in their own 
hands, and formed what is known as the " Conspiracy of 




Chateau of Amboise. 

Amboise" (1560). Their plan was to attack the court 
at Amboise, take possession of the young king, — thus 
gaining not only his ear but the custody of his person, — 
and then forcibly remove him from what the Protestants 
styled the baneful influence of the Guises. 

Unfortunately for the Protestants, this plot was betrayed 
to the Guises ; so although a few of the plotters escaped, 
Louis of Bourbon, Prince of Cond6 (c6N-da'), the real 



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252 OLD FRANCE 

leader, was taken captive. The prime minister, Chancellor 
de L'Hdpital', — a wise and tolerant man, who succeeded 
in preventing the establishment of the inquisition in 
France, — could not prevent the execution of some of 
these conspirators, or the severe prosecution of Cond6. 

It was just while his trial was going on that Francis II., 
who had long been sickly, succumbed, after wearing the 
crown seventeen months, the shortest actual reign in the 
history of France. As he left no children, the scepter, at 
his death, passed on to his younger brother, Charles IX:, 
then aged ten, thus depriving Mary Stuart and her uncles 
of their influence at court. 

In fact, very shortly after her husband's death, Mary 
Stuart was reluctantly obliged to return to Scotland, which 
she had not seen since she left its shores at five years of 
age. Her despair on leaving France, the only home 
she could remember, was most pathetic, and it is said she 
sat on deck all night, hoping that when morning dawned 
she would still be able to catch a glimpse of the fair coun- 
try where she had spent a brilliant and happy youth, and 
to which she addressed touching poetical farewells. 

Mary Stuart was leaving France forever, just when 
great troubles were about to begin, for by this time the 
Reformation had made considerable progress, and counted 
a large number of earnest adherents in France, though 
most of the French were strongly Catholic. The French 
Protestants soon assumed the name of Hu'guenots, which 
is said to be a corruption of the Swiss word Eid'genossen 
(sworn members). 

The most marked among the Protestant leaders was un- 
doubtedly Admiral Coligny (co-leen'yee), a man of great 

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CHARLES IX. (1560-1574) 253 

Strength and nobility of mind and of unblemished character, 
who was respected by all, and who would fain have pre- 
vented the bloodshed which was about to take place. It 
is this Coligny who attempted to found a Huguenot colony 
in Florida, the colony which was exterminated by the 
Spaniards and avenged by De Gourgues (goorg).^ 



LXVI. CATHERINE'S REGENCY 

WHEN Charles IX. was called to the throne by his 
brother's death, he was only ten, so the Chancellor 
deL'Hopital, knowing Catherine's intense desire to rule, ad- 
vised her to proclaim her regency without delay. Although 
the people had never seen Catherine in any position of 
authority hitherto, and although they vaguely mistrusted 
her because she was an Italian, they made no opposition 
to this move. 

Catherine craftily played off one political party against 
the other, with the sole aim of weakening both and being 
left to rule without any interference. Besides, the long 
years during which she had been humiliated and set aside 
by the king's favorites had so embittered the queen that, 
when she finally came to power, she no longer trusted 
any one. 

Still, she was wise enough to perceive that the country 
was in a very critical condition, both in religious matters 
and in politics. One of her first moves, therefore, was 
to call the States-General, and instruct them to find out 
what would be required to satisfy all parties. To them 

1 See Story of the Thirteen Colonies^ pp. 74-75. 

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254 OLD FRANCE 

the Chancellor made this broad-minded address : " Inquire 
whether it may not be possible for a citizen to be a subject 
without being a Catholic, and if it is not possible for men, 
differing in faith, to live in peace with one another. Do 
not wear yourselves out in seeking to decide which religion 
is the best. We are not here to settle the faith, we are 
here to regulate the state." 

After some discussion the States-General decided that 
Huguenots should be allowed to worship only outside of 
the cities. When any one was absent from town, therefore, 
it was often said that the missing person had gone out to 
a Huguenot meeting, — "to attend the hedge school,*' as 
the saying was {/aire F^cole buissonni^re)^ — a saying 
which is still used in France to-day as an equivalent for 
" playing truant.*' 

In pursuit of her crafty policy- always to play one party 
off against the other, Catherine stopped the trial of Cond6, 
for she hoped thereby to diminish still further the influence 
of the hated Guises. The queen mother also issued the 
Edict of St. Germain, which caused great dissatisfaction 
among the Catholics, because it gave the Protestants some 
towns where they might freely exercise their religion. 

In hopes of settling all the religious difficulties, and 
thus reaching a lasting understanding, a famous conven- 
tion was finally called, where Theodore de B^ze (bez), 
the chief Protestant spokesman, and Cardinal de Lor- 
raine, head of the Catholics, set forth the views of 
either party and held a lively debate. Here, all went 
smoothly until the Protestant spokesman denied the real 
presence in the sacrament, when the Catholics in the 
assembly declared such a statement rank blasphemy, and 

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CHARLES IX. (1560-1574) 255 

the convention had to break up without having accom- 
plished anything definite. Thus, all the conciliatory powers 
of L'H6pital proved vain, although he had opened the con- 
vention with a very strong speech, imploring the people 
to cast aside all such distinctions as Protestant and Catho- 
lic, Lutheran and Calvinist, and remember only that they 
were all Christians. 

The fact that no satisfactory agreement could be reached, 
showed how rapidly things were nearing a crisis. Shortly 
after, while the Duke of Guise was attending mass at Vassy 
(va-see', 1562), he was disturbed by the singing of some 
Protestants, holding a meeting next door. His attendants, 
sallying out, first rudely tried to silence the Huguenots ; 
then, as the latter resisted their efforts, they resorted to force. 
The result was a fight in which many Protestants perished, 
and this was the beginning of the religious wars in France, 
which were to last for the next thirty-six years, although 
they were interrupted seven times by vain attempts at 
peace making. 

In the first of these wars the Guises were the leaders of 
the Catholics, and Condd and the other Bourbons, leaders, 
of the Protestants. At first the Protestants gained marked 
advantages in spite of their small numbers, and before 
very long they were masters of two hundred cities, includ- 
ing Orleans. They also had a goodly number of soldiers, 
while the main advantage the Catholic party could boast 
was that it retained the custody of the king. 

Feeling the need of additional support at this juncture, 
both parties now sought alliances, the Catholics securing 
that of their former foe Philip II. of Spain, while the 
Huguenots won the help of Queen Elizabeth of England, 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



256 OLD FRANCE 

by offering her the city of Havre as a pledge for the 
future restoration of Calais, which she demanded in ex- 
change for her services. 

All through this war Catholics and Huguenots were 
equally guilty of horrible excesses, and great cruelty was 
shown by certain bands of fighters on both sides. The 
Catholics greedily appropriated Huguenot property, thus 
enriching themselves at their foes* expense, while the 
Huguenots, on their side, ruthlessly destroyed many sacred 
paintings and statues, thus causing irreparable damage to 
some of the famous historical churches. 

In the course of the first religious war the main battle 
was at Dreux (dre, 1562), where the Catholics were victo- 
rious. They then laid siege to Orleans, hoping to win it 
back from the Protestants, but while there the Duke of 
Guise was murdered by a Huguenot. After firing the fatal 
shot, this murderer is said to have joyfully exclaimed, 
" He is gone, the persecutor of the faithful, and will not 
come back ! " 

Before the wretch could escape, he was seized, and would 
.have been instantly torn to pieces, had not his dying 
victim asked to see him. Guise is reported to have then 
asked the man why he had made so cowardly an attack, 
and when the latter declared it had been dictated to 
him by his faith, the wounded man retorted : " Then my 
religion is infinitely better than yours, for it teaches me to 
forgive you, while yours teaches you nothing but murder! ** 
The duke then and there gave orders that his assassin 
should be immediately released, but his followers neverthe- 
less detained him and finally put him to death with torture. 

The murder of the Duke of Guise was shortly followed 



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CHARLES IX. (1560-1574) 257 

by a compromise (known as the peace of Amboise), which 
the queen mother cleverly induced Cond6 and others to 
sign. This peace, however, proved more advantageous to 
the Catholics than to the Protestants, for when Coligny 
learned that Cond6 had signed it, he exclaimed ruefully : 
"Behold a dash of the pen which overthrows more 
churches than the enemy's forces could have destroyed in 
ten years ! " Both sides accepted the peace, however, 
and joined forces in recapturing Havre from the English. 

It was just after the conclusion of the first religious war 
that Catherine de* Medici began (1564) to erect the famous 
palace of the Tuileries (tweel-ree') on the site of a tile manu- 
factory to which it owes the name. Until 1871, when it 
was destroyed, this palace was to be the abode in Paris of 
French monarchs. After making all her arrangements for 
the construction of this royal dwelling, — which was built 
without regard to cost, and decorated most lavishly, — 
Catherine set out on an extensive tour of France with her 
son, whom she conducted to Bayonne (ba-yon'), to hold an 
interview with her married daughter, the Queen of Spain, 
and with the Duke of Al'va, a famous foe of Protestantism. 



LXVII. THE FORCED WEDDING 

AFTER the meeting at Bayonne, the queen mother 
^ ceased to show any favor to the Huguenots. 
This roused their suspicions, and, believing that they must 
hold themselves ready to defend their lives and liberty, 
they began to arm. The second religious war followed, 
in which was fought the bloody but indecisive battle of 



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258 OLD FRANCE 

St. Denis, at the gates of Paris. Peace was soon signed 
again, but it did not prove lasting. 

In the third war, a terrible battle took place at Jarnac 
(zhar-nac', 1569). At the beginning of this memorable 
encounter, Conde (Louis of Bourbon) was not only wounded 
in one arm, but had one leg shattered by a cannon-ball. 
Notwithstanding these disabling wounds, he insisted upon 
fighting, calling out bravely to his dismayed followers, 
" Go on, noble Frenchmen, behold the combat which you 
have so much desired, and remember in what state Louis 
of Bourbon entered into it for Christ and his country ! " 

In spite of heroic efforts, Cond6 was soon surrounded 
and made prisoner. Just as he was giving up his sword, 
a cowardly enemy, stealing up behind him, shot him in the 
head ! Thus deprived of a leader, the Huguenots lost the 
battle, and were in a state closely bordering on despair, 
when the widowed Queen of Navarre (Jeanne d*Albret) 
suddenly appeared in their camp with her son and with 
young Henry of Bourbon, the son of Cond6. 

Presenting both lads to the Protestant army, this lady 
said: "Soldiers, I offer you everything I have to give 
— my dominions, my treasures, my life, and, what is 
dearer to me than all, my child. I make here solemn 
oath before you all, I swear to defend to my last sigh, the 
Holy Cause which now unites us." Her son, Henry of 
Navarre (who was to be later on Henry IV. of France), 
then declared, in his turn : " I swear to defend the religion, 
and to persevere in the common cause until death or vic- 
tory has restored to us all that liberty for which we fight." 

With the addition of two such important partisans to their 
army, the Huguenots took courage again, and, after more 



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CHARLES IX. (1560-1574) 259 

fighting and marching, obtained a peace (St. Germain, 
1.570) which granted them many privileges, including the 
possession of four fortified towns. But these concessions 
angered and seriously alarmed the Catholics, who soon 
prevailed upon Catherine to make further attempt to rid 
herself of such dangerous foes. 

Hoping either to win over the principal Huguenot noble- 
men, or to get them all in her power, Catherine now pro- 
posed that Henry of Navarre should come to Paris to wed 
her daughter. Henry's mother, pleased with this offer, 
gladly came herself to Paris to negotiate the marriage, but 
even while visiting Catherine de' Medici, she died so sud- 
denly that there have been suspicions ever since that she 
may have been poisoned. 

In spite of this tragic death, the preparations for the 
marriage went on, and many of the principal Huguenots 
came to Paris with Henry of Navarre to attend the festivi- 
ties. But the bride, Margaret, had no desire to accept the 
bridegroom thus forced upon her, and obstinately declared 
she would say " no " even at the altar. Besides, the priests 
were reluctant to celebrate a marriage between a Roman 
Catholic and a Protestant, and did not consent to do it till 
the king had threatened to lead his sister into a Protestant 
meeting, and have her married there. 

Henry of Navarre, being a Huguenot, refused, as leader 
of his party, to enter Notre Dame for the marriage ser- 
vices, so his nuptials had to be celebrated on a platform 
just outside of the sacred building. At the wedding, the 
bride still refused to say "yes," or to nod her head in 
answer to the priest's question. Her royal brother, there- 
fore suddenly stepped up behind her, and gave her a rude 



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26o 



OLD FRANCE 



thrust which made her head bob, sternly calling out to the 
priest, " Go on, she has nodded her consent ! " 

Among the Protestants who had come to Paris to wit- 
ness the wedding, and to celebrate the reconciliation which 

it heralded between the 
conflicting parties, was 
the great Admiral Co- 
ligny, whom King 
Charles then embraced 
joyfully, saying, " I have 
you now, my father, and 
do not think that you 
shall escape me easily 
again ! " Indeed, the 
young king talked so 
much to him that Cath- 
erine began to fear lest 
her son might yet escape 
from her influence and 
fall under that of the 
admiral. In her terror, Catherine determined to rid her- 
self of this possible rival, and she and Guise hired an 
assassin to fire upon him as he was leaving the Louvre. 

Although the admiral was only wounded, the mere fact 
that he had been attacked in this way, in such a place, 
roused keen indignation among the Huguenots assembled in 
Paris. When the king heard of it, he flung down his ten- 
nis racket, petulantly crying, "Am I never to have peace?" 
Then he went to visit the wounded admiral, and expressed 
great sympathy. 

It may be that this very visit precipitated matters, for 

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Notre Dame. 



CHARLES IX. (1560-1574) 261 

Catherine and her most devoted followers now began to 
plot a great Huguenot massacre. Some of those who were 
approached in regard to it were in favor of getting rid of 
all the Huguenot leaders at any cost, but others were too 
honorable to subscribe to any such measure ; one man, for 
instance, boldly declared : ** God forbid that I should give 
my assent to any design so perfidious — one so fatal to the 
honor of France and to the repute of my king ! " 



oJ©<a 



LXVni. THE MASSACRE OF THE HUGUENOTS 

CHARLES IX. was one of those who opposed a 
Huguenot massacre, obstinately refusing at first to 
sign the decree his mother presented. But his was a weak 
and credulous nature, so at the end of a very few days, 
wearied by Catherine's importunities, and convinced 
besides by her false statements that the Huguenots were 
really plotting against his life, he suddenly seized the pen, 
and signed the order for the massacre, exclaiming hysteri- 
cally : " By God's death, since you will kill the admiral, kill 
them all ! Kill all the Huguenots in France, so that none 
may be left to reproach me. By God's death, kill them 
all ! " 

Having thus wrung from her weak and bewildered son 
the permission she desired, Catherine intrusted to Guise 
and certahi other influential Catholics, the charge of mur- 
dering the Huguenot wedding guests who were still tarry- 
ing in Paris. It was settled that the massacre should take 
place on St. Bartholomew's Day, and that the bells of the 
famous old church near the Louvre should ring out the 



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262 OLD FRANCE 

signal for the attack at two o'clock in the morning. The 
houses where the principal Huguenot noblemen lodged 
were all marked in advance, and the conspirators agreed to 
recognize each other, even in the darkness, by means of a 
white sleeve or badge which all were to wear on the left arm. 

At first the plan had been to sacrifice only a few of the 
leaders, but the lists gradually grew longer and longer, so 
that by the time the signal bell pealed forth, a general mas- 
sacre had been arranged. Most of the prominent Hugue- 
nots in Paris, and many of their followers, were slain, for 
they were taken by surprise in the night, and thus unable 
to offer any defense; besides, the gates of the city were 
closed and guarded so that none could escape. 

The Duke of Guise, without troubling himself about 
lesser victims, proceeded immediately to the house of Ad- 
miral Coligny. After posting men to prevent any attempt at 
escape, he sent guards upstairs to murder his aged political 
rival. Breaking into Coligny's sleeping room, these assassins 
found him there, calm and composed, although at the first 
alarm he had bidden his servants escape by way of the 
roofs, saying : " For a long time past I have kept myself 
in readiness for death. As for you, save yourselves if you 
can ! " 

When the door was broken open, the guard abruptly in- 
quired, " Are you Coligny ? ** 

" Yes, I am he, young man, and you ought to respect 
my gray hairs, " replied the admiral, adding philosophically, 
" But you will not shorten my life much ! *' 

The murderer, having thus ascertained that this was 
really the victim he sought, dealt Coligny a mortal blow, 
and had barely done so, when he heard his master call out 



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CHARLES IX. (1560-1574) 26, 



'o 



impatiently from below, " Is it done ? Show me some 
proof." Although the breath had not yet left the admiral's 
body, the assassin hurled him out of the window, at the 
duke*s feet, where some one wiped the blood away from 
the dead man's face, to enable the duke to make quite sure 
that the right person had been dispatched. Standing 
there, gazing at his victim, the Duke of Guise touched the 
corpse with his foot, crying in a tone of wonder, " Gra- 
cious, I didn't know he was so tall !" ^ Then, turning to 
his followers, he boldly exclaimed : " Courage, companions, 
we have begun well. On to the others ! " 

It is said that Charles IX., hearing the bells peal out 
their terrible signal, was. seized with sudden repentance, 
and sent a messenger off in great haste to st^y the duke's 
hand. But the order did not arrive till after Coligny was 
murdered, so Guise coolly sent back word, " Tell the king 
it is too late ! " 

Meantime, other murderers were at work also. Not 
only were more than two thousand Huguenots slain, but 
a few Catholics as well ; for the great disorder made a good 
opportunity for wreaking private revenge. Even in the 
Louvre, the massacre went on, the Huguenots there being 
led down into the palace yard, and only Henry of Navarre 
and young Cond6 were allowed the alternative of ** Mass 
or the Bastille ! " In the new Queen of Navarre's bedroom 
a few Huguenots were murdered, some frantic followers 
of the bridegroom having tried to take refuge there from 
the foes so hotly pursuing them. 

When the day dawned, Charles IX. himself is said to 
have gone out on a balcony of the Louvre, where, armed 

^ In French the same word means " tall " and " great." 

uigitizea Dy VJJWVJV IC 



264 '' OLD FRANCE 

with a crossbow, he shot at the fugitives who were vainly 
trying to gain the bridge and flee across the river. We 
are also told that Catherine and her maids paraded the 
streets, gazing complacently at their victims. 

Besides Henry of Navarre and the Prince of Cond^, 
the king spared his Huguenot nurse, and his physician 
Par6, because he was much attached to them both, and 
depended upon them for comfort in many ways. 



LXIX. DEATH OF CHARLES IX. 

THE massacre of St. Bartholomew (Aug. 24, 1572) 
was, as we have seen, aimed mainly against the 
aristocratic Huguenots, — the leaders of their political 
party, — for it was intended to carry out Alva's advice, 
which was : ** Take the big fish and let -the small fry go. 
One salmon is worth more than a thousand frogs ! " The 
massacre was not confined to Paris, however, as orders for 
similar murders were sent to various provinces. In some 
places these commands were obeyed without question ; in 
others, the governors bluntly refused to conform, and even 
two executioners declared that, while they were ready to 
do their duty and put to death persons who had been tried 
and found guilty, they utterly refused to execute those 
against whom nothing had been proved ! 

The governor of Bayonne wrote : " Sire, I have com- 
municated the commands of your Majesty to the inhabit- 
ants of the town and the soldiers of the garrison, and I 
have found good citizens and brave soldiers, but not one 
executioner ; on which account, they and I humbly beseech 



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CHARLES IX. (1560-15 74) 265 

you to employ our arms and our lives in things we can 
effect. However perilous they may be, we shall willingly 
shed therein the last drop of our- blood!'* 

Another noble soul declared : " Sire, I have received 
an order under your Majesty's seal, to put the Protestants 
of this province to death. I respect your Majesty too 
much not to believe that this letter is a forgery, and if, 
which God forbid, the order be genuine, I respect your 
Majesty too much to obey you." 

Notwithstanding such refusals, the massacre in other 
provinces proved so extensive that more than twenty thou- 
sand Huguenots were slain in France. 

The news of the massacre of St. Bartholomew was 
received very differently by various people. Chancellor 
de L'H6pital, for instance, who had always opposed 
persecution, was horrified when he heard about it, and 
cried, "Perish the memory of this execrable deed! " But 
at the Spanish court, king and courtiers openly rejoiced, 
as over a great victory. 

It was inevitable that the massacre of St. Bartholomew 
should rekindle civil war. During the ensuing fourth re- 
ligious conflict, the Protestants intrenched themselves in La 
Rochelle, which was vainly besieged by the Catholic forces 
(1573). But after great hardships had been endured by 
both besieger and besieged, a peace was concluded near 
that city, giving the Huguenots liberty to worship in cer- 
tain towns in the south ; for most of the Huguenots 
lived in southern France. 

This had barely come to pass, when the Duke of Anjou, 
a brother of the king, was elected to occupy the throne 
of Poland (1574), — thanks to the bribes which his mother 



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266 



OLD FRANCE 



scattered lavishly among the electors to secure this honor. 
But he had barely left home to be crowned in Poland, 
when his brother Charles IX. fell dangerously ill, and it 
soon became only too evident that this king, too, would 
die without leaving any. children. 

The death of Charles IX. was pitiful in the extreme, 
for he suffered greatly. Being a consumptive, he had nu- 




Painting by Monvolsin. 



The Remorse of Charles IX. 



merous hemorrhages, and the sight of his own blood always 
recalled the massacre which he had countenanced. At 
such moments it was with difficulty that his old Huguenot 
nurse could calm his terrors. 

This poor young king died at twenty-four, frantically 
imploring God's pardon, his keen remorse proving that he 
was neither as hardened nor as guilty as his mother Cath- 
erine, who died some years later, without ever having ex- 
pressed regret for that cruel massacre. 

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HENRY III. (1574-1589) 267 

Although Catherine often gave Charles IX. bad advice, 
she nevertheless discovered what was likely to please a 
fickle people, for she once said : " Twice a week give pub- 
lic assemblies, for the specific secret of French government 
is to keep the people always cheerful. They are so restless 
you must occupy them during peace, either with business 
or with amusements, or else they will involve you in trouble." 



LXX. AN EFFEMINATE KING 

AS Catherine de* Medici was regent all through King 
Charles IX.'s minority and even after he had come 
of age, he can never be said to have really reigned. It is 
therefore not surprising that the queen mother continued 
to hold the reins of government in the name of her third 
son, Henry III., to whom a messenger had been dispatched 
in hot haste. 

Henry of Anjou, King of Poland, and now King of 
France also, had greatly distinguished himself in his early 
youth by winning the battle of Jarnac'; but he had not 
kept the promise which he then gave for bravery and en- 
ergy. He was now a weak and worthless youth, devoted 
solely to pleasure, and thinking of nothing but the grati- 
fication of low tastes. He was so fond of dress that many 
of those who saw him declared he looked either like '* an 
effeminate king or a masculine queen," and he devoted far 
more time to his garb and personal adornment than to any 
affairs of state. 

Fearing lest the Poles might try to prevent him from 
leaving their country, or at least might detain him a long 



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268 OLD FRANCE 

time in making suitable arrangements for their government 
during his absence, he escaped from this kingdom like a 
criminal, riding fast until he had passed the frontier, and 
excusing himself to the one official who tried to stop him, 
by stating that he was most anxious to see once more a 
lady whom he loved. This lover-like anxiety, however, did 
not prevent him from lingering several months at Vienna 
and Venice, to enjoy the festivities offered to him there, so 
it was three months after Charles IX.*s death before Henry 
again set foot in France. 

Henry IH.'s first declaration was that all his subjects 
must Uve as Roman Catholics or quit the realm. He made 
this announcement with great firmness, but he was of such 
a weak and vacillating nature that very soon after he 
changed his policy, and began, instead, to favor the Prot- 
estants. The fact was that he found the whole country 
in a dreadful state, and did not know which party to favor. 
There were now not only Catholic and Protestant factions, 
but also one of Moderates, led by the Duke of Alengon, 
(a-laN-s6N') — the king's last brother, — whose ambition was 
to establish liberty of conscience everywhere, and who tried 
to secure Queen Elizabeth's aid by becoming a suitor for 
her hand. 

Instead of making serious attempts to bring order out of 
this chaotic condition, the new king devoted all his time 
and money, first to a grand coronation festival, and then 
to his wedding with a cousin of the Guises. The new 
queen was unfortunately not strong-minded enough to in- 
fluence him for good, and her days were spent like his, in 
devising new costumes, in painting her face, and in giving 
elaborate entertainments to the king's favorites. These 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



HENRY III. (1574-1589) 



269 



young men, who were popularly known as his "darlings" 
{mignons\ copied all the fashions set by the king and 
queen, and affected the utmost extravagance and languor, 
in connection with a fierce courage, which spurred them 
on to challenge any one on the most trifling excuse, until 
dueling became the 
reigning passion at 
court. 

The king and 
queen were extrava- 
gantly fond of pets ; 
so one and all of 
these " darlings " 
pretended great 
fondness for them 
also. One of them 
actually received a 
title as reward for 
inventing a large flat 
basket which could 
be suspended around 
the king's neck by a 
broad blue ribbon, 
and which would 
contain, at one time, several of the toy dogs from which 
this monarch could not bear to be parted. 

We are also told that the huge neck-ruffs, which had 
been in fashion during the previous reigns, were jJiscarded 
by Henry III. mainly because he was afraid lest his 
younger brother, whose privilege it was to fasten this 
adornment, should use a poisoned pin, thus getting rid of 




Painting by Leon. 

Henry HI. and his Pets. 



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270 OLD FRANCE 

him so as to assume his place on the throne. But this 
king's love of dress had one good result, for it made him 
introduce uniforms among his troops, so that soldiers there- 
after went into battle all arrayed alike, and the army thus 
assumed a more seemly appearance. 

Both Henry of Navarre and Cond6 were forced to re- 
nounce their faith after the massacre of St. Bartholomew ; 
but Cond6 effected his escape after a while, rejoined 
the Huguenots, and sought help in Germany, where he 
managed to raise a large army. On invading France, 
the German Protestant forces were bravely met by the 
Duke of Guise, who, in that encounter, received the 
wound in his cheek to which he owes his historic nick- 
name of " the Scarred " {le Balafr^), But Condi's army 
made its way to join the Huguenots in southern France ; 
and Henry of Navarre fled from court and escaped thither 
also. Soon after, a new peace was signed, giving the 
Huguenots greater rights than before. 

It was mainly because the king seemed so indifferent 
and the Protestants were so aggressive, that the Catholics, 
under the leadership of the Duke of Guise, formed what is 
known as the Holy League. Its open object was to up- 
hold the Church, but it also secretly aimed to place Henry 
of Guise on the throne instead of the king, whose ineffi- 
ciency had by this time thoroughly alienated the people's 
affections. It is true that Guise was not next of kin, but 
he boldly based his claim to the throne on a supposed de- 
scent from Charlemagne, and fancied he could gain his 
purpose by getting the good will of the Catholics, who 
after all composed nine tenths of the population. 

These ambitious designs of the Guise family upon the 



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HENRY III. (15 74-1589) 271 

crow*n were at first kept secret, but Henry III. saw what 
influence the duke was gaining by siding so openly with 
the Catholic party, and determined to figure as leader 
of the League himself. He therefore boldly declared him- 
self its head, although the Duke of Guise continued to 
direct all the movements of this powerful party. 



LXXI. THE BATTLE OF COUTRAS 

THE sixth religious war, wJiich now broke out, was 
carried on with great cruelty, and ended by granting 
the Huguenots some of the judgeships, and eight fortresses, 
as a sort of guarantee that their rights would thereafter be 
respected (1577). Notwithstanding this agreement, which 
proved so advantageous to the Protestants, the Catholic 
party continued to predominate in France, and especially 
in Paris, where the sixteen wards of the city were under 
sixteen magistrates, all of whom were • strong partisans, 
both of the League and hence of the Duke of Guise. 

In a vain attempt to regain the allegiance of many of the 
nobles whom his weak and effeminate conduct had alien- 
ated, Henry founded the order of the Holy Spirit (Saint 
Esprit, in 1578), appointing at first only twenty-four mem- 
bers, which made it a very select affair. This was the 
second order of knighthood which had been founded in 
France, the first being that of St. Michael (St. Michel, 
instituted in 1469), which counted by this time so many 
members that it was no longer considered a distinction to 
belong to it. (See page 211.) 



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272 OLD FRANCE 

There had been already, as we have seen, six religious 
civil wars in France. A seventh was about to break out, 
but this time new complications arose to embitter both 
parties, for the Duke of Alen^on had died. As long 
as this prince had lived, the Catholics fully expected him 
to succeed his brother, Henry III., whose weak constitu- 
tion was being rapidly undermined by his fast life. But 
when Alen^on passed away without offspring, it became 
apparent that the crown^ at the death of the present 
ruler, would fall to Henry of Navarre, next of kin, but a 
Huguenot. 

The idea of a heretic upon the throne of France was 
unendurable to the bulk of the population, which was, 
and has always been, stanchly Roman Catholic. For 
that reason the Holy League's plan to place the Duke of 
Guise on the throne now gained many adherents. Still, 
there were many Frenchmen who did not deem it right to 
attempt to change the natural order of succession. Besides, 
Henry of Navarre had many of the manly qualities which 
appeal strongly td the nation, for while he, too, loved pleas- 
ure, he was nevertheless a thorough soldier, brave, shrewd, 
and cordial, making friends easily, holding them fast after 
they were once made, and ever ready to bear anything and 
everything for the good of his party or people. 

It was in 1587 that Henry of Navarre, leader of the 
Huguenots, found himself face to face with the royal 
army, at Coutras (coo-tra'), led by the king's favorite, 
Joyeuse (zhwa-yez'). The royal forces outnumbered their 
opponents, and when the Huguenots, according to their cus- 
tom, knelt before entering into battle, one of the courtiers 
cried to Joyeuse: "Look! look! the Huguenot traitors 



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HENRY III. (1574-1589) 273 

are already beaten ! They prostrate themselves ! They 
tremble !'' 

But a bystander, knowing better what such conduct 
portended, replied : " Do not be deceived, my lord ; I know 
these said Huguenots. They are pleased now to appear 
down in the mouth and sanctimonious, but when we come 
to the charge, we shall find them devils and lions of cour- 
age!" 

At this statement, it is said, some of the royalists were 
badly frightened, and turning to Joyeuse, timorously in- 
quired, "What is to be done?'* Their leader, who was 
quite as brave as dandified, retorted briefly, " Die ! " And 
he set them the example by perishing on the battlefield 
after having fought to the last. 

Just before the battle began, Henry of Navarre said to 
his relatives : " Cousins, I only remind you that you are of 
Bourbon blood, but with God*s help, I will show you to- 
day that I am your elder ! '* To this, Cond^ retorted : 
"And we will show you that you have worthy juniors ! ** 
Thus saying, all plunged into the fray with such ardor that 
in less than an hour the royalist general was dead, his 
troops in full flight, and Henry of Navarre had won a 
triumph which gave him great prestige in France. 

Although dauntless in battle, Henry of Navarre was 
a generous foe. Before beginning the fight, he sent word 
to the royalists what terms of peace he was willing to 
grant, and when, on the point of surrendering, the foe 
inquired what conditions he would now demand, he 
promptly answered, "The same as before.'* 

The Huguenot victory in the south of France was 
offset in the north by the success of the Duke of Guise, 

uigitizea oy vjiOOQlC 



274 OLD FRANCE 

who drove back an invading army of German Protestants. 
The war, therefore, continued fiercely, and as it ^yas car- 
ried on by Henry the king, Henry of Guise, and Henry 
of Navarre, it is often known as the " War of the Three 
Henrys." 

Had the Catholics been united, there is no doubt that 
they could have triumphed quickly over the Huguenots ; 
but they were greatly divided. The Duke of Guise was 
aiming to secure the throne for himself ; his ally, Philip II. 
of Spain, claimed it for his daughter, a niece of Henry III.; 
and the French king, who wanted to retain his power as 
long as possible, was desperately jealous of these rival 
claims for his crown. 

In his anger over Guise's growing popularity, Henry 
III. forbade the duke to return to Paris; but in spite of 
this. Guise shortly after marched boldly into the city. 
When the king ordered his guards to eject the disobedient 
nobleman, the Parisians rose up and formed barricades in 
the streets to defend the man who had become their idol 
(1588). Indeed, it was only because the duke forbade it 
that the people refrained from attacking the king's guards. 



LXXII. THE MURDER OF THE GUISES 

WHILE the Duke of Guise and the queen mother 
were holding a meeting on the Day of the Barri- 
cades, to see if they could not make peace. King Henry 
III. escaped from his palace and left the city to go in 
quest of an army wherewith to drive away the insolent sub- 
lect who had refused to obey his orders. When the duke 

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HENRY III. (1574-1589) 275 

discovered that Catherine had tricked him, merely to en- 
able her son to effect his escape, he became bitterly angry, 
and promptly made himself master of Paris. But when 
the Duke of Guise bade the mayor of the city take certain 
measures to maintain order, the mayor boldly refused to 
obey any commands save those issued by his king, declar- 
ing openly : " It is a great pity when the servant drives 
away the master; but my soul is God*s and my heart is 
the king's, although my body is with the wicked ! *' All 
sixteen magistrates, however, were in favor of the duke, 
and carried out his orders. 

Paris soon assumed the aspect of a besieged city, and 
it looked as if the breach between the king and his subject 
might prove final. Then Henry III. — who was always 
changing his mind — suddenly declared he would pardon 
his rebellious subject, promised to exterminate the Hugue- 
nots, and named Guise general of the army ! 

Next, hoping to satisfy an angry people, Henry III. 
bade the States-General assemble at Blois; but all the 
members belonged to the League, and insisted on giving 
the Duke of Guise still more power. His sister wore a 
pair of golden scissors dangling from her belt, declaring 
they were intended to shear off the locks of Henry III. 
when he should be locked up in a monastery, as had been 
done to some of the " do-nothing kings.*' This made the 
king hate the Guises more than ever. 

Now the haughty Duke of Guise was so brave that he once 
said, " Even if I were to see death enter by the window, 
I would not go out by the door to escape her." He there- 
fore paid no heed whatever to secret warnings that his 
life was in danger. In fact, his sole comment was a con- 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 




(276) 



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HENRY III. (1574-1589) 277 

temptuous shrug of his handsome shoulders, and the 
scornful remark, " He wouldn't dare ! " But this haughty 
nobleman was to find out his mistake before long. 

One morning, very early, the king summoned the Duke 
of Guise and the duke's brother, the cardinal, to his coun- 
cil room in the castle of Blois. He had previously ar- 
ranged that forty of his guards should be posted in his 
bedroom so as to attack and slay an inconvenient subject. 
Then he had his chaplain say mass, and was impious 
enough to have the following prayer openly read : " That 
God may give the king grace to be able to carry out an 
enterprise which he hopes will come to an issue within an 
hour, and on which the safety of France depends !" 

After a brief term of waiting in the king's antechamber, 
the Duke of Guise was summoned to the royal bedroom, 
where, instead of being received by the monarch as he 
expected, he was pounced upon by the murderers. He 
bravely tried to defend himself, but was felled by repeated 
blows. His brother, the Cardinal of Guise, hearing a 
struggle in the adjoining apartment, vainly tried to rush 
to his rescue, but guards had previously been detailed to 
seize him also, and he was locked up in a cell, where he 
was put to death the next day. 

The king, who had been waiting anxiously in an adjoin- 
ing room, learning that Guise was dead, marched into his 
bedchamber, where he stood a long time looking down 
at the body. Finally he touched it with his foot, just 
as Guise had touched Coligny sixteen years before (see 
p. 263), exclaiming as he did so : " Gracious, how tall he is I 
He looks taller dead than alive ! " Should you ever visit 
the castle of Blois, you will see a dark stain on the floor, 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



278 OLD FRANCE 

which is said to have been made by the blood of Guise, 
when he was thus basely murdered by a French king's 
orders. 

But Henry III. evidently considered that he had done a 
most praiseworthy deed in ridding himself of the Duke of 
Guise and of his clever brother ; for he proudly announced 
to his court: "At last I have killed the reptile, and to kill 
the reptile is to destroy the venom ! *' Then, going to visit 
his mother, Catherine, who lay on her deathbed, he tri- 
umphantly declared : ** Madam, I am once more King of 
France. I have killed the King of Paris ! '* 

Catherine faintly replied : " What, you have, killed the 
duke! God granf, my son, you have not made yourself 
king of nothing. It is one thing to cut your cloth, and 
another to make it up ! " 

Evidently shrewd Queen Catherine plainly saw that her 
son was not the man to retrieve his past mistakes. The 
few days which still remained to her were spent, it is" said, 
in bitter regret that she would not be able to resume the 
reins of government and carry out her many ambitious 
schemes. Meantime, the Leaguers, justly indignant at the 
murder of their idol, the Duke of Guise, declared Henry III. 
no longer worthy to reign. Mayenne (ma-yen'), a brother 
of the dead Guises, was made leader of their party, and 
took possession of Paris, where he ruled as king just as 
his brother had done. Even children marched through 
the streets loudly singing the praises of the Guise family 
and cursing the king, who had been formally excommu- 
nicated from the Church because of the murder of the car- 
dinal. 

As the gate§ of his capital were thus closed to him, 



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HENRY III. (1574-1589) 279 

Henry III. soon changed his policy again, making friends 
this time with Henry of Navarre, his next of kin and heir. 
The two Henrys, uniting forces, proceeded immediately to 
St. Cloud, near Paris, whence they intended to make a 
determined assault upon the rebellious capital. 

But the very day before this assault was to take place, 
a fanatical monk cleverly made his way into the royal 
camp, declaring that he had dispatches and a secret mes- 
sage to deliver to the king. The guard therefore led him 
into Henry III.*s presence and withdrew to a little dis- 
tance. Then the monk — who believed that he would 
earn heavenly bliss if he slew the enemy of his Church and 
of his country — suddenly drew a dagger out of his sleeve, 
and stabbed the king in the abdomen. Jerking out the 
weapon, Henry III. struck his assassin, and gasped, 
** This wicked monk has killed me ! '* before he fell to the 
ground. 

The king was right. His wound was mortal, but he 
lived long enough to make various arrangements, and he 
solemnly warned his cousin, Henry of Navarre, " Be very 
sure of one thing, you will never become King of France un- 
less you first become a Catholic ! ** Then, still jealous of the 
Guises, and fearing lest that family might, after all, secure 
the power which he could no longer hold, Henry III. 
made the noblemen around his deathbed swear allegiance 
to Henry of Navarre, who, as soon as the last of the 
Valois died, became Henry IV. of France, the first of the 
famous Bourbon branch (1589). 

The Valois race had ruled over the country for two 
hundred and sixty years, and had given thirteen kings to 
France. All through that period there had been a suc- 
o. F. — 18 r^ T 

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28o OLD FRANCE 

cession of wars : first, the Hundred Years' War with Eng- 
land ; then several wars in Italy, and for the Balance of 
Power ; and finally the destructive religious or civil wars, 
which had not yet reached their end. Thus the Valois, 
by their inefficiency and love of pleasure, did great harm 
to France; but they also did much good, in that they 
encouraged letters and fine arts, thus leaving many beau- 
tiful buildings and countless art treasures, which are now 
the proud boast of the country. 



LXXIII. WINNING A CROWN 

HENRY IV., who was called to the throne by the 
murder of his cousin, Henry III., was born at Pau (p5) 
in southern France, where the people still show the huge 
tortoise shell which served as his cradle. His mother, the 
Queen of Navarre, a woman of unusual strength of body 
and mind, sang cheerily at his birth, so that her child 
should be light-hearted ; and she allowed him to be 
brought up exactly like the peasant children of the neigh- 
borhood, in order that he might become hardy, active, and 
independent. 

Henry lost his father when only nine, and at fifteen, as 
we have seen, was taken to the camp of the Huguenots to 
become nominal leader of their -forces. But he showed 
himself so brave and skillful that before long he was the 
acknowledged head of his party. He used to say, ** Na- 
ture made me hot-tempered, but anger is a bad counselor, 
and since I have known myself, I have always been on 
guard against so dangerous a passion." But although he 



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HENRY IV. (1589-1610) 281 

showed self-control in restraining his anger, he never 
deemed it important to govern any of his other passions, 
and was, for instance, in the habit of falling violently in 
love with almost every pretty face he saw. 

We have already seen how Henry of Navarre went to 
Paris to marry the king's sister, and how his life was 
spared in the massacre of St. Bartholomew. Later on, 
you remember, he effected his escape from court and re- 
turned to the Huguenot party, where he immediately ab- 
jured the Catholic religion, which he had professed only in 
order to escape death. 

Although Henry HI. had taken the precaution before 
dying to make the nobles s\year formal allegiance to his 
cousin and successor, Henry IV., he had no sooner passed 
away than many of the Leaguers left the camp with their 
troops, declaring that nothing would ever induce them to 
fight for a Huguenot king ! But some Catholics remained 
loyal to him, and one man expressed their sentiments when 
he cried, " You are the king of the brave. Sire, and none 
but cowards will abandon you ! '* 

Being left with only four thousand men, the new mon- 
arch found it impossible to carry out the plan of assault- 
ing Paris, so he withdrew with his troops. Meanwhile the 
extreme Leaguers, under the guidance of Mayenne, pro- 
claimed the captive Cardinal of Bourbon, Henry's uncle, 
King of France. But as this cardinal died in captivity, 
and never enjoyed the royalty thus thrust upon him, he 
does not count at all in the annals of the country. 

Very many Catholics urged Henry to be converted to 
their faith, and promised to support his claim to the crown 
if he would do so. Even the 5*ope is said to have re- 

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282 OLD FIL\NCE 

marked at that time : " Were the King of Navarre here, 
I would go down on my knees to implore him to end and 
heal these divisions by becoming a Catholic ! *' There 
was some hope that Henry might do so, because he was 
by no means a zealous Huguenot, and because he fre- 
quently said, " If I am wrong, instruct me ! " Still, he 
was too blunt and straightforward to be willing to change 
even a nominal religion for expediency's sake only, and so 
the war continued. 

Henry IV., who aptly described himself at this time as 
" A king without a kingdom, a husband without a wife, 
and a warrior without money,'* marched off to Dieppe 
(de-8p' ), where the people gave him a warm welcome. 
But Henry always showed a great dislike for formality and 
long speeches, and put an end to all such fuss on this 
occasion by exclaiming : ** No ceremony, my children ! I 
want only your love, good wine, good bread, and friendly 
faces." 

Shortly after this, Henry's forces were attacked by those 
of the Leaguers under Mayenne, at Arques (ark, 1589). 
There, Henry won a brilliant victory, so was able to write 
jovially on the morrow to a friend who had been absent 
that day : " Hang yourself, my brave fellow ; we have 
fought at Arques, and you were not there ! " 

The following year Henry gained much territory, and 
fought another pitched battle with Mayenne and his Lea- 
guers, at Ivry (eev-ree', 1590). Many anecdotes are re- 
lated in regard to this battle. The king, whose forces 
were so small that he had to depend greatly on his Ger- 
man allies, had been too poor to pay them for their serv- 
ices. He was, therefore, seriously annoyed when their 



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HENRY IV. (1589-1610) 283 

leader, Baron, of Schom'berg, on the eve of the fight, came 
and asked for money for his men. Irritated by this de- 
mand, which he could not satisfy at that moment, Henry 
haughtily exclaimed: "Men of honor do not ask for 
money on the eve of battle!'* 

But the next morning, realizing hoV unjust he had been, 
he marched up to the baron in the presence of his army, 
and frankly apologized, saying : " Baron, I insulted you 
yesterday. This may be the last day of my life, and I 
would not willingly take away with me the honor of a 
gentleman. Pardon me, and embrace me." 

The baron then answered : " Sire, yesterday, it is true, 
your Majesty wounded me, but to-day you kill me, for the 
honor you do me will oblige me to lay down my life in 
your service ! '* 

Having thus atoned for his bitter words, Henry gave the 
following instructions to his troops : " My friends, keep 
your ranks in good order. If you lose your ensigns, pen- 
nons, or guides, the white plume that you see on my hel- 
met will lead you on the way to honor and glory ! " It is 
to this speech that we owe frequent historical and literary 
allusions to "the white plume of Navarre." 

Mayenne*s army was composed of choice French and 
Spanish troops, but all Henry's arrangements were never- 
theless made either to win or to die. When one of his 
officers come to inquire what provisions had been made 
in case of retreat, he sternly rejoined, " There will be no 
retreat save the battlefield ! " Then, too, when his men 
seemed to be on the point of giving up, and were already 
beginning to flee, Henry IV. saved the day by thundering 
at them, " Turn around, you cowards, and if you won't 

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OLD FRANCE 



fight, at least see me die ! ** But just as soon as the battle 
was won, all Henry's generous inclinations came to the 
front once more, and he bade his followers, " Strike hard 
the foreigner, but spare every Frenchman ! " thus showing 




Drawing by Du Semane. 

Henry IV. at the Battle of Ivry. 

that he could not forget that every native was one of his 
subjects. 

This battle of Ivry was a most brilliant victory. Know- 
ing that it was the turning point of Henry's career, one of 
his followers joyfully exclaimed : " You have. Sire, com- 
mitted the bravest folly that ever was, in staking the fate 
of the kingdom on one cast of the dice ! " 

Having won this battle, Henry's next move was to press 
on and besiege Paris (1590), which he held for four months 

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HENRY IV. (1589-1610) 285 

under strict blockade. At first there were sufficient pro- 
visions so the inhabitants did not suffer too grievously; 
but during the last two months the famine became so dire 
that many people died of hunger. 

The kind-hearted king could not bear to think of the 
suffering in the city. Some historians declare that he 
allowed convoys of provisions to pass his lines so as to 
relieve the people's distress; but the fact is that Henry 
IV. was far too good a general to permit anything of the 
sort. Of course the pjeople's suffering could be ended at 
any time by surrendering; meanwhile the only supplies 
which entered the city were those intended for the sick 
and wounded, against whom no brave man ever makes war. 

But the Spanish sent excellent troops which succeeded 
in relieving the threatened capital, just as Henry was 
about to become master of it. Seeing he could not now 
take it without a more bloody contest than he was able or 
willing to wage, he quietly withdrew, exclaiming, "I am 
like the true mother in the Judgment of Solomon, for I 
would rather not have Paris at all, than to see it all torn 
to pieces and dead." ^ 



LXXIV. CONVERSION OF HENRY IV. 

HAVING failed to take Paris, Henry ranged around, 
here and there, and finally laid siege to Rouen 
(1 591-1592), being assisted in this work by his English 
and German Protestant allies. But once again the Spanish 
came to the rescue just in time. 

^ See Story of the Chosen People^ p. 149. 



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286 OLD FRANCE 

Although Henry had won two brilliant victories, and 
had proved his courage and patriotism, most of the French 
Catholics still opposed him. Neither side could conquer 
the other, even with the help of foreigners. Perceiving 
at last the truth of Henry HI.'s prediction that only a 
Catholic could win the crown of France, Henry IV. con- 
sented at last to change his religion. 

We are told that his conversion occurred after the 
following odd conversation : " Do you," said the king to 
a great Protestant divine, " believe a man can be saved by 
the Catholic religion ? " 

" Undoubtedly," replied the clergyman, " if his life and 
heart be holy." 

" Then," said the king, " prudence, dictates that I em- 
brace the Catholic religion, and not yours, for in that case, 
according to both Catholics and Protestants, I may be 
saved ; but if I embrace your religion, I shall not be saved 
according to the Catholics." 

After receiving some purely nominal instruction, Henry 
made all his arrangements to abjure the Protestant religion 
and become a Roman Catholic. He is said to have writ- 
ten playfully to one of his friends : " Paris is well worth 
a mass ! On Sunday I shall take the perilous leap ! " 
When all was ready, the king knocked at the door of the 
Abbey of St. Denis, which the bishop opened, inquiring, 
"Who are you.?" 

" The king," answered Henry. 

" What do you seek ? " 

" To be received into the fold of the Catholic, Apostolic, 
and Roman Church." Then, kneeling, Henry impressively 
went on : "I protest and swear, in the presence of God 



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HENRY IV. (1589-1610) 287 

Almighty, to live and die in the Catholic faith, and to 
protect and defend it against all, at the peril of my life 
and blood ! " After this public declaration of faith, the 
bishop granted him absolution, and led him into the church, 
where mass was celebrated, and a Te Deum was siing in 
honor of a royal concession to the wishes of about nine 
tenths of the people. 

While Henry*s change of religion was urged by his 
wisest counselors, sorne of his friends, Protestants by con- 
viction, flatly refused to follow his example. His greatest 
adviser. Sully (su-lee'), for instance, wrote him: "Should 
I ever change my religion, it would be from an internal 
conviction only; neither avarice, vanity, nor ambition 
would ever lead me to do so. Were I to do otherwise, I 
should give your Majesty good reason for suspecting the 
sincerity of a heart I could not guard faithfully for God." 

Henry*s next move was to be solemnly crowned in the 
cathedral at Chartres (shar'tr'). Most of the Catholics 
were now willing to obey him, but it was eight months 
after his conversion before the gates of Paris opened to 
him at last, and he could enter his capital without strik- 
ing a blow. Many of the Parisians were so happy to see 
their king that they crowded about him, shouting; and 
when his guards would fain have driven them away, 
Henry good-naturedly exclaimed : ** No, let them alone ; 
let them all press around me. They hunger to see a king 
once more ! *' 

Meantime, the Spanish troops, as you know,' had en- 
tered Paris under pretense of helping Mayenne and the 
Leaguers, but in reality so as to obtain the crown for 
their own little princess, a granddaughter of Catherine 



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(288) 



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HENRY. IV. (1589-1610) 289 

de* Medici. They were now obliged to leave, and as 
Henry watched them file out, he called out to them gayly : 
" Good-by, gentlemen. My compliments to your master, 
but don't ever come here again ! *' 

Within the next two years, Henry became master of all 
France, for he was shrewd enough to buy many of the 
places which he did not conquer. When Sully, his friend 
and prime minister, was instructed to bribe the governor 
of Rouen, and grumbled at the price, the bluff king re- 
plied : " My friend, you are a fool. Give the man his 
price. We will afterwards pay everything with the very 
booty which they surrender to us ! " 

The Holy League, which had been all-powerful for 
many years, had lost much of its influence in France when 
the Spaniards joined it to gain the crown for their prin- 
cess. Such power as it still boasted was undermined for- 
ever by a satire {Satire Minipp^e) which made such 
unmerciful fun of the Leaguers that their association was 
almost killed by sheer ridicule. 

Finding nearly all Catholics ready to obey their recently 
converted king, Mayenne finally made his submission, too, 
and was received by Henry IV. in a garden, where the 
king made this stout nobleman tramp around at such a 
lively pace that the poor man almost expired from fatigue. 
Henry, who was still spare and active, laughed heartily 
when he saw the pitiful plight of his former foe, and jo- 
cosely remarked in an aside to Sully, " One more turn, and 
I shall have punished this fat fellow for all the trouble he 
has given us ! '* Then, pausing and turning to Mayenne, 
the merry king added aloud, " Confess, cousin, that I have 
been going a little too fast for you ! ** 

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290 OLD FRANCE 

"Faith, Sire, it is true. If your Majesty had gone on, I 
think you would have killed me ! " gasped Mayenne. 

" Shake hands, cousin,'* Henry now went on, " for, by 
God*s truth, this is all the ill you need ever fear from me ! " 

It was this generous spirit, this readiness to forget all 
past injuries, which soon turned most of his former foes 
into truly loyal subjects. 

Having gained possession of his kingdom, Henry called 
an assembly of notables, whom he addressed in the follow- 
ing remarkable way : " I have not called you together to 
impose my own will, as my predecessors were wont to do, 
but to receive your counsels and to follow them, a notion 
which does not often come into the head of a king, and a 
gray-bearded conqueror like me. But the vehement love 
I bear to my subjects makes everything easy to me/* It 
was this love also which made him anxious to ascertain the 
purchasing power of even the smallest coin, to learn the 
scale of wages for all kinds of work, and the mode of liv- 
ing of his peasant subjects, for he fully realized that it 
was only after such data had been obtained that he would 
be able to tax the nation justly. 

To maintain his place as King of France, Henry was 
obliged to wage a three years* war against Spain (1595- 
1 598), which still asserted claims to the crown. Early in 
the course of this war, Henry won a marked victory 
(Fontaine Fran^aise), where, we are told, he bravely ex- 
posed his own life to save that of his friend Biron (be-r^N'). 
Later, when a strong Spanish army seized the city of 
Amiens (a-myaN'), he set out to besiege it, joyfully exclaim- 
ing : ** My friends, I have long enough played the King 
of France. Now it is high time for me to play the King 



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HENRY IV. (1589-1610) 291 

of Navarre ! ** He said this because it was while still styled 
King of Navarre that he had won his greatest laurels as 
general. He now added to them by quickly retaking 
Amiens, and forcing an end to the war on terms favor- 
able to himself and France. 

In the same year, 1598, the king promulgated the Edict 
of Nantes (nants, or, naNt), which gave Protestants the right 
to practice their religion wherever they pleased, allowed 
them the same civil privileges as the Catholics, and thus 
put an end to the civil and religious warfare which had deso- 
lated France for thirty-six years. This Edict of Nantes 
gave France the peace she so sorely needed. 

LXXV. HENRY IV.*S SECOND MARRIAGE 

HAVING finished warfare at last, and become sole 
master of his kingdom, Henry IV. immediately pro- 
ceeded to reorganize it, so that it might become prosperous 
once more. Although this king had no moral grandeur 
of character, he was so shrewd and far-sighted a man, and 
had so able a prime minister in Sully, that the finances at 
the end of his reign were in prosperous condition, and there 
were even forty-two million francs in reserve in the royal 
treasury. 

Henry himself took a lively interest not only in agri- 
culture but also in commerce and manufacture. He en- 
couraged the culture of silkworms, the making of glass and 
pottery, and the weaving of silks and velvets. The first 
weavers were even allowed to ply their trade in the gal- 
leries of the Louvre, where are now exhibited some of 



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292 OLD FRANCE 

the finest paintings, statues, etc., that the world can show ; 
and he founded the Gobelin (go-be-laN') tapestry establish- 
ment. He had many good roads built, for he realized that 
good means of communication 'would greatly enrich the 
country. Besides, he has the honor of planning the canals 
of France, and of constructing the one which unites the 
Seine and the Loire. 

Henry IV. embellished Paris in many ways. We are 
told that when a Spanish ambassador once commented 
upon the difference between the city under his rule, and 
while it was in the hands of the Leaguers, he quietly re- 
marked : " Oh, you see, then the father of the family was 
not at home. Now that he is here to care for his children, 
all goes well again with them ! " The French were pleased 
with this paternal attitude, which was further shown by 
one of his sayings often quoted — namely, that his main 
ambition was to see France so prosperous that every 
peasant could afford to have a chicken in the pot on 
Sunday ! 

Henry is also known as a great colonizer. It was dur- 
ing his reign that Quebec' was founded by the French in 
Canada.^ 

It is a matter of history that Henry never lived on good 
terms with the wife who was forced to marry him just 
before the massacre of St. Bartholomew. They separated 
soon after their wedding, and Henry more than once 
courted some other lady, whom he promised to marry as 
soon as he could secure an annulment of this marriage. 

On the strength of such a promise, one fair lady 
(Gabrielle d'Estrees) long expected to become Queen of 

1 See Story of the Thirteen Colonies^ p. 174. 



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HENRY IV. (1589-1610) 293 

France, and therefore assumed great airs. On one oc- 
casion she ventured to find serious fault with the prime 
minister, Sully, even demanding that he be discharged; 
whereupon the king, ever loyal to this faithful friend, 
turned indignantly upon her, saying, "Know, Madam, 
that one friend like Sully must be dearer to me than even 
such a sweetheart as you ! " This lady died before the 
king could obtain a divorce, and Henry, who had always 
shown great affection for her, wore black in token of 
mourning, although until then kings had never donned 
anything but violet under such circumstances. 

It was very important that Henry should have an heir to 
succeed him on the throne of France ; and as his wife, 
Margaret, was willing that he should be divorced from 
her, Henry continued to press his suit for an annulment 
of his first marriage, until the Pope granted it, because 
lack of free consent on the part of the bride had made the 
marriage invalid from the beginning. 

Very soon after the divorce was obtained, Henry 
married Marie de* Medici, a niece of the famous Catherine. 
The new queen brought an immense dowry, and came into 
France with a brilliant suite, thus introducing into Henry's 
court more luxury, gayety, and elegance than had been 
seen there for many a day. 

The following year Henry concluded the treaty of 
Lyons with Savoy (1601), whose duke had sided with the 
Leaguers and had given him an immense amount of trouble 
during the religious wars. By this treaty, Henry won 
some territories in the west where the people spoke French. 
This delighted him, for he often said that he had no objec- 
tion to the Emperor keeping all German lands, and the 



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294 OLD FRANCE 

Spanish king all Spanish lands, but he wished all French 
soil to belong to the kingdom of France. 

Henry proved a very wise and powerful ruler. Look- 
ing beyond his own borders, he suggested that each of the 
nations of Europe should send a certain number of dele- 
gates to a supreme council, which was to regulate all 
matters of warfare by arbitration. But before this Uto- 
pian scheme could be carried out, it was necessary to 
humble the powerful House of Austria, to which belonged 
both the ruler of Austria and the monarch of Spain ; so 
near the end of Henry's reign- he planned a war for that 
purpose. 

LXXVL DEATH OF HENRY IV. 

THE policies followed by Henry IV. were not approved 
by some of his subjects, especially the friends who 
had fought by his side throughout the religious wars, 
and who felt angry because he did not show them greater 
favor, or bestow upon them all the advantages they 
thought they deserved. Their jealousy and greed gave 
rise to several conspiracies, among others, one in which 
the king's friend Biron was implicated. 

When this plot was discovered, Biron was given every 
chance to confess and be forgiven, but seeing he was ob- 
durate, the king finally had him arrested. Thinking it im- 
possible that Henry — who had saved his life in battle at 
the risk of his own — should ever proceed seriously against 
him, this nobleman showed no anxiety throughout his trial; 
but the king had determined that impartial justice should 
be meted out on this occasion, and when Biron was found 



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HENRY IV. (1589-1610) 295 

guilty and sentenced to death, made no attempt whatever 
to save him from the scaffold. 

Henry IV. had no children from his first marriage, but 
he had six from his second, and three of these children 
lived to wear crowns, although one daughter — the unfor- 
tunate wife of Charles I. of England — lost hers in time.^ 




Drawing by Du Semane. 

Henry IV. and his Children. 

Henry was a most indulgent father. We are told that; 
when the Spanish ambassador presented himself at the 
Louvre one day, he found the king on all fours, serving as 
steed for his young children. Glancing up at his stately vis- 
itor, Henry smilingly inquired : " Mr. Ambassador, are you 
.a father ? " Upon receiving an affirmative reply, he genially 

1 See Siory of the English^ pp. 259, 261. 

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296 OLD FRANCE 

continued, "Very well, then I will just finish this game!" 
So Henry IV. went on entertaining the little ones for 
a while longer, before rising to give a formal audience to 
an august ambassador. 

One day, when a historian submitted a work which he 
was writing, Henry ruefully inquired, " But why do you 
reveal my weaknesses ? '* The author replied, " Because 
they will offer as good lessons to the Dauphin as the ac- 
count of your many noble deeds ! *' This answer so ap- 
pealed to Henry's common sense that he promptly said : 
" Yes, the whole truth must be told, for were my defects 
to be ignored, other things would not be believed. Well, 
write them all down, so that I may avoid such mistakes in 
future." 

Henry had many friends of great ability, and used to 
consort as much as possible with the intellectual people of 
his time. One of the great saints of that epoch, Francis 
of Sales, spoke of him as ** That prince, so great in every 
respect, from whose life greatness seems, as it were, in- 
separable ; " and Henry fully recognized the saint's good 
qualities, for he once said : " He unites all virtues with- 
out one fault. He is the man the most fitted to root out 
heresy, and to establish the Catholic religion solidly." 

When Henry was about to leave the country to carry 
out his ambitious plans against Austria, he appointed his 
wife regent, and had her solemnly crowned, knowing that 
otherwise her authority might not be respected. He must, 
besides, have felt some premonition that he was not to 
live much longer, for he remarked to his courtiers, who 
criticized something he had done : " I shall die one of these 
days, and when you have lost me, you will know what I 



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HENRY IV. (1589-1610) 



297 



was worth, and the difference there is between me and 
other men ! " 

Seeing how depressed he was one day, his physician ad- 
vised him to go out and take the air, so Henry suddenly 
decided to drive out and visit his prime minister. Sully, 
then detained at 
home by illness. 
While passing 
through a narrow 
street, the king's 
carriage was stopped 
by a block ahead, 
and during the brief 
pause a half-crazed 
man (Ravaillac) 
deftly sprang up on 
the carriage wheel, 
leaned over, and 
stabbed the poor 
king again and 
again. Henry sank 
back unconscious, 
and died shortly 
after (16 10). 

Henry IV. was buried in the Abbey of St. Denis, where, 
even during the Revolution, his tomb was respected by an 
enraged people, although all the others were desecrated. 
An equestrian statue of the king was erected on one of 
the bridges in Paris, a bronze horse being brought from Italy 
for that purpose ; it met shipwreck on the way, but was 
later fished up out of the sea. This statue, which was 




Statue of Henry IV., in Paris. 



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298 OLD FRANCE 

very famous indeed, remained only until the Revolution, 
when it was torn down and melted, to supply cannon for 
the new republic ; but a copy of it now stands at the same 
spot. 

The reign of Henry IV. marks the end of all feudal 
pastimes, for after his accession no more tournaments were 
held in France. It also marks the time when the French 
language assumed the form it bears at present, given to it 
by the ^reat writers of this epoch (Malherbe and Regnier), 
whose style is still considered classic in France. 

Henry IV. was not only a great monarch but a most 
popular one. His untimely death was sorely mourned by 
his people, fathers exclaiming to their children : ** What 
will become of you ? You have lost your father ! " 



LXXVII. THE MINORITY OF LOUIS XIII. 

HENRY IV. had detected in His young son and heir 
many signs of intense selfishness, which made him 
once remark to his wife : " Madam, pray God that I may 
live, for, believe me, that naughty boy there will ill-treat 
you sorely when I shall no longer be here." 

No sooner had the tidings of the king's murder reached 
the palace than a great sound of lamentation arose. One 
of the councilors rushed wildly into the queen's apartment, 
with such a countenance of woe that Marie de' Medici, 
springing up from her seat, exclaimed : " Sir ! the king ! 
this tumult ! Is the king dead ? " Whereupon the councilor 
replied : ** Madam, be calm, I entreat you. Pardon me, 
the king never dies in France. Behold the king ! " point- 



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LOUIS XIII. (1610-1643) 299 

ing to the nine-year-old Louis XIII., who was henceforth 
to be ruler of the country. We are told that it is this 
episode that gave rise to the saying, " The King of France 
never dies." 

The queen immediately seized the reins of governments 
Even before the news of the king's assassination had 
spread throughout the capital, all necessary measures had 
been taken to secure her authority, and orders issued for 
the Parliament of Paris to assemble on the morrow. There, 
in a solemn session, — known as a " bed of justice," because 
the dais of the throne resembled that of a four-poster, — the 
little king publicly appeared, to signify to the assembled 
councilors that it was his express wish that they should 
hereafter all obey his mother, the regent. 

One of the first acts of the new government was the 
trial and condemnation of Henry's base murderer, who 
had been seized immediately after his crime, and subjected 
to cruel torture to force him to reveal the names of his ac- 
complices, should he have any. But in spite of all the 
horrors he had to undergo, the criminal betrayed no one. 
He was then put to death by fearful tortures, and his body 
was literally torn to pieces. 

Although Henry's policy had been to lessen the power 
of the House of Austria, he had no sooner passed away 
than his queen began to court its alliance, thus entirely 
foiling her husband's designs. Then, too, being of a very 
weak nature, Marie de' Medici proved the easy victim of 
any favorite who happened to catch her ear. 

The nobles who crowded around the queen flattered her 
until she allowed them such extensive privileges that 
they became nearly independent. They declared, " Kings 



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300 OLD FRANCE 

have had their turn, now we shall have ours ! ** In their 
greed for honors and power they not only tried to monop- 
olize the fair regent's attention, but also strove to wring 
from her the funds which Henry had saved for his coming 
wars. 

The only person at court who refused to bow down be- 
fore the vain regent was Sully, Henry's counselor, who 
not only retained his old-fashioned mode of dress, but ob- 
stinately refused to adopt the servile manner of the other 
courtiers. For that reason, instead of being treated with the 
respect which the undeniable services he had rendered his 
country had earned for him. Sully was mocked by the 
dandified courtiers, who did not hesitate to make fun of 
him, even in the presence of the young king and of the 
queen mother. 

On one occasion, when thus turned into ridicule. Sully 
boldly addressed his young master, saying : " Sire, I am too 
old to change my habits. When the late king — your father 
of glorious memory — did me the honor to summon me to 
an audience on affairs of state, he was in the habit first 
of dismissing the buffoons and mountebanks ! " But, in 
spite of this sharp protest, buffoons and mountebanks 
were to have their day, so Sully retired from court, fore- 
seeing that his wise measures would soon be overthrown. 

Soon after Sully withdrew, it became evident that the 
real rulers of the country were the foster-sister of the 
queen, Leonora, and her husband, Concini (c5n-chee'nee). 
The latter, although he had never been a soldier, managed 
to obtain from the queen the position of marshal, which 
entitled him to command the military forces in France. 

As the queen, Hke most small-minded persons, gave 



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LOUIS XIII. (1610-1643) 301 

undue importance to form and ceremony, she surrounded her 
young son with much pomp ; yet, like most weak mothers, 
she proved either very indulgent or extremely severe. It 
is said that the little king once cried : ** Oh, Madam, pray 
make me fewer curtsies, but have me whipped less se- 
verely ! *' Whenever such a punishment had to be inflicted, 
the queen — realizing her son's resentful disposition — 
always ordered that the whipping should be done by a serv- 
ant closely masked, so that the king should not be able to 
recognize him and wreak vengeance upon him later on. 

As you can readily imagine, it did not take Queen 
Marie long to distribute to the rapacious nobles all the 
money which her husband had collected for the proposed 
campaign against Austria. As long as the money lasted, 
the courtiers proved most obsequious, but when her treas- 
ury was empty, and there was nothing left to give them, 
they became angry and revolted. 

There was, besides, at that time, such dissatisfaction in 
the realm, that the queen called a meeting of the States- 
General (1614) in hopes that they would be able to put 
the affairs of state in good order once more. On this oc- 
casion — the fifteenth and last time the States-General 
met until 1789 — Richelieu (ree-she-lye') was one of the 
spokesmen, and made such an eloquent address that even 
then people began to perceive that he was a man of un- 
usual ability. The States-General deliberated a great deal, 
but accomplished very little, which may be one reason 
why kings did not prove anxious to convoke them again 
for the next century and a half. 

It was in the same year that the king, although only 
thirteen, was pronounced of age ; but at a " bed of justice" 



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302 OLD FRANCE 

he turned to his mother, begging her to continue ruling in 
his name, and adding, ** I wish and intend that you be 
obeyed in all things and everywhere, and that, next to me, 
you should be head of my council." 

It was because Marie so favored the House of Austria 
that negotiations were begun to arrange a marriage be- 
tween Louis XIII. and Anne of Austria, the eldest daugh- 
ter of the King of Spain. After some difficulties, the 
wedding took place. Although the bridegroom was at 
that time only fourteen and the bride eleven, and both 
were expected to remain in the schoolroom a year or two 
longer, they were nevertheless henceforth husband and 
wife, as well as king and queen of a great realm. For 
some mysterious reason, however, Louis XIII. was never 
on a very friendly footing with his beautiful young wife. 



o^^f> 



LXXVIII. THE RULE OF FAVORITES 

DURING the seven years of the king's minority, the 
Concinis gradually became so arrogant that none of 
the other nobles could endure them. In 1617, therefore, 
a great conspiracy was formed ; the nobles finally persuaded 
the king that his marshal was a traitor, so, by Louis 
XIII. 's order, Concini was murdered the very next time he 
entered the palace. As soon as he was dead, the conspira- 
tors rushed into the royal presence, crying triumphantly, 
" Sire, now you are indeed king, for the marshal is dead ! " 
When the cold-blooded young monarch heard these wel- 
come tidings, we are told he deliberately stepped up to the 



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LOUIS XIII. (1610-1643) 303 

open window, and called out joyfully to the assassins, 
"Thank you, thank you, now I am king!" 

Not content with ridding himself of Concini by a base 
murder, the king had the marshal's wife arrested, under 
pretext that she was practicing magic arts or witchcraft. 
During her trial, when asked to reveal what spells she had 
used to keep the queen mother so submissive to her will, 
Leonora truthfully declared, " Mine has been merely the 
mastery of a strong mind over a weak one.'* But the judges 
utterly refused to credit this simple explanation. They 
fully shared the popular belief that magic arts had been 
employed, and for that reason -sentenced the poor woman 
to death as if she had been a common witch. 

Not only did the nobles thus bring about the disgrace 
of both Concinis, but they also discredited the queen 
mother, who was shortly after banished to Blois. She 
withdrew thither, saying bitterly, ** Poor me ! I have reigned 
seven years, and now can expect nothing more than a 
crown in Heaven ! " 

The Thirty Years' War having broken out (161 8) between 
the Catholics and the Protestants in Germany, there was 
danger that a similar struggle would be renewed in France. 
The Huguenots desired to make La Rochelle the center 
of a Protestant republic in France, which, of course, could 
not be allowed ; and war resulted between the two parties. 

Taking advantage of the disturbed state of affairs, the 
queen mother and her second son, Gaston of Orleans, began 
to plot against the king. Marie effected an escape from the 
castle of Blois through a window, joined a party of dis- 
affected nobles, and fought one battle. But her quarrel 
with her eldest son soon ended ; a reconciliation took place, 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



304 



OLD FRANCE 



and mother and son again appeared in public on apparently 
friendly terms. 

Meantime, Louis XI I L was almost entirely under the 
influence of another favorite (De Luynes), the man who 

trained his best 
hunting hawks, and 
who had been most 
instrumental in 
rousing his suspi- 
cions against the 
Concinis. But al- 
though this man 
was so ambitious as 
to aspire to the first 
place at court, he 
was not capable of 
governing well, and 
was soon obliged to 
yield to Richelieu, 
who from 1624 to 
1642 was the real 
and very able ruler 
of France. 

Richelieu was a remarkably clever man. One of his 
contemporaries said of him, ** God seems to have set no 
bounds to his intellect." Besides that, he was patriotic 
and ambitious, his plan being to subdue the Protestants 
and prevent their setting up a separate state in France ; 
to diminish the power of the nobles ; and to weaken the 
influence of Austria in Europe. 

In order to bring these three desirable things to pass, 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 




Painting by Rubens. 

Marie de' Medici. 



LOUIS XIII. (1610-1643) 305 

Richelieu set to work with great skill. The year after 
he became prime minister he negotiated a .marriage be- 
tween the king's sister Henrietta and Charles I., tliereby 
securing the alliance of England. Next, he induced 
Louis XIII. to enact severe laws against dueling, which 
had become so frequent by this time that challenges were 
exchanged on the slightest pretext. The penalty for the 
infringement of this law was henceforth rigidly enforced, 
and some of the greatest nobles of the realm died on the 
scaffold. 

To suppress the Protestants, Richelieu next called forth 
all the military and naval power of the realm, and set off 
in person to superintend the siege of La Rochelle, the 
Huguenot stronghold. He surrounded it by troops on the 
land side, and tried to blockade it by the fleet on the water 
side ; but he soon discovered that it would be impossible 
to hinder the Germans and English from smuggling in 
supplies, and he knew that as long as ships could enter 
the port the people of La Rochelle would be able to defy 
the king's authority. Richelieu therefore planned and 
built a tremendous mole, or dike, across the entrance 
to the port to prevent supplies from reaching the rebels. 

The prime minister had proclaimed on starting out for 
the siege of La Rochelle, " I will employ all the authority 
the king will give me to ruin the Huguenot party ! " — 
and, as you see, he certainly made the best use of his 
power for that purpose. Still, the Huguenots were quite 
as determined not to yield, and the mayor of La Rochelle 
assumed office only on condition that he should be empow- 
ered to stab the first man who mentioned the word sur- 
render! We are told that the dagger with which to commit 



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LOUIS XIII. (1610-1643) 307 

this deed always lay on the council table, and that once, 
when some one ruefully remarked that soon no one would 
be left to defend the city, this mayor sternly exclaimed, 
"Even if only one man remains, that man must keep the 
gate shut!'* 

As long as provisions from abroad could reach La 
Rochelle, the siege proved endurable ; but after Richelieu's 
mole was complete, and no more supplies could enter, dire 
famine set in. The inhabitants were therefore forced to 
surrender at the end of fifteen months, having suffered 
unheard-of hardships before finally giving in. 

Although conquered, the Huguenots were granted civil 
equality, and liberty to practice their religion, by a new 
peace (Alais, 1629); but they now ceased to form a sepa- 
rate armed political party in France. They were, besides, 
strictly forbidden to emigrate to Canada, lest their influence 
there should become too strong in time, and they should 
form a state in the New World, hostile to the kingdom of 
France. 

LXXIX. RICHELIEU AND LOUIS XIII. 

ALTHOUGH Louis XIII. was of a very cold nature, 
and seemed as a rule satisfied to let Richelieu manage 
just as he pleased, the king occasionally showed signs 
of being jealous of his prime minister, and of wishing to 
retain the power in his own hands. On one occasion, for 
instance, when a question of precedence arose, the king 
bitterly remarked to Richelieu, ** Pass on, pass on, for 
you are the first here ! " Whereupon Richelieu, with quick 
tact, rejoined, " Yes, Sire, but it is only in order to show 



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3o8 



OLD FRANCE 



the way to your Majesty," taking up a candlestick at the 
same time and preceding the king as if he had been 
nothing more than his master's lackey. It was thus that 
Richelieu, the proudest of men, knew how to humble him- 
self to reach his ends, for he had a very strong will, and 
described himself accurately when he once said, "I 




Painting, by Girbme. 



"His Gray Eminence." 



undertake nothing without mature consideration, but when 
I have made up my mind, I mow down everything that 
stands in my way, and then cover it all up with my red 
robe." 

In speaking of his red robe, Richelieu referred to his posi- 
tion as a cardinal in the Church ; for cardinals wore red 
robes in public. It was because he was a cardinal, and 
as such was addressed as ** Your Eminence," that he was 
known at court as ** His Red Eminence." On the other 

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LOUIS XIII. (1610-1643) 309 

hand, his stern confessor, Brother Joseph — who knew all 
his secrets, and to whom delicate missions were often in- 
trusted — wore the gray Cap'uchin garb, and was known 
as " His Gray Eminence " ; for the courtiers, feeling 
that he influenced in many ways the master they hated, 
feared and disliked him equally. 

Shortly after the Huguenots had been finally subdued, 
Louis XIII. and Richelieu set out to make war against 
Savoy, an ally of Austria and Spain, with which France 
was no longer on friendly terms. The young king distin- 
guished himself greatly in an engagement in the Alps, and 
the war was ended by a treaty giving France the right of 
free passage over the mountains. 

After thus reaping laurels in war, Richelieu and the 
king quietly went on carrying out the great minister's vari- 
ous schemes to humble the nobles, by greatly diminishing 
the number of feudal fortresses, and compelling the aris- 
tocracy to respect and obey all the laws of the country. 
Even the decree against dueling was severely enforced in 
all cases ; hence it was natural that the nobility, in gen- 
eral, should dislike the prime minister ; but he invariably 
triumphed over their repeated attempts to oust him from 
power. 

On one occasion, taking advantage of the king's brief ill- 
ness, the queen mother, the queen, and the nobles, all eagerly 
plotted to banish the detested Richelieu. They obtained the 
king's reluctant consent to send him away, and openly re- 
joiced when Richelieu packed up his belongings and pre- 
pared to leave ; but then the minister decided that it might 
be wise to have a parting interview with his royal master. 

No one knows exactly what took place at this meeting. 



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3IO 



OLD FRANCE 



but when it was over, Richelieu was fully reinstated in 
power, the king saying with more warmth than was usual 
with him, "Continue to serve me as you have done 
hitherto, and I will defend you against those who have 
sworn your ruin." The day on which the hopes of both 




Bedroom of Marie de' Medici in the Luxembourg. 



queens and courtiers were so badly frustrated is therefore 
known in history as the "Day of Dupes " (1630). 

The next plot resulted in a second banishment of the 
queen mother, Marie de' Medici, who died at Cologne eleven 
years later, in exile and poverty, in the very house once 
occupied by the painter, Rubens, whom she had employed 
to decorate her palace of the Luxembourg (liik-saN-boor'). 
This sumptuous edifice had been begun shortly after her 



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LOUIS XIII. (1610-1643) , 311 

husband's death, for she intended to retire to it when her 
term of regency was over. Her elaborate bedroom can 
still be seen there, but the pictures which Rubens painted 
of the various striking events in her life are now in the 
Louvre, where they give a good idea not only of this great 
painter's style, but also of this queen's extreme vanity. 
One of them is shown on page 304 of this book. 

Louis XII L showed great wisdom when he decided to 
retain the services of Richelieu, for it was inostly owing to 
this minister's genius that France soon became so prosper- 
ous and powerful. Many other rulers fully realized that 
the progress of France was mainly due to the cardinal. 
A century later, Peter the Great of Russia once exclaimed, 
" I would give half my dominions for a Richelieu to teach 
me how to govern the other half ! " 

Meantime, the Thirty Years' War in Germany had been 
dragging wearily on. First one country and then another 
helped the German Protestants in their struggle against 
the Emperor and his Catholic allies ; but for a long time 
Richelieu took no part in the contest, except to send funds 
secretly when necessary. In the final period of the war, 
however, lasting from 1635 to 1648, France entered openly 
into the conflict, Richelieu's aim being to secure what he 
called " the natural frontiers of France " ; for he had fully 
decided that, "Just as far as Gaul reached, so far shall 
France extend!" 

In order to obtain these so-called "natural frontiers," 
Richelieu wished to extend the French king's territory to 
the very banks of the Rhine, and during the war in which 
he now zealously engaged, he helped to do so by securing 
possession of Alsace' (1639) ^^^ of Artois (ar-twa', 1640). 
o. F. — 20 r^ 1 

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312 OLD FRANCE 

Richelieu could do more than one thing at a time. It 
was in 1637, ^^ the very midst of the last period of the 
Thirty Years' War, that he struck another blow in his 
efforts to diminish the power of nobles. This he did by 
instituting the office of " Intendants," officers whose duty 
it was to watch over the government of the different prov- 
inces, so as to see that everything was done according to 
the laws of the country and the wishes of the king. 



LXXX. END OF LOUIS XIII.'S REIGN 

ONE great difficulty during most of this reign was 
that the king had no sons, and that his brother 
Gaston of Orleans, assuming that he and his children 
would some day occupy the throne, was inclined to pre- 
sume upon these expectations. For many years after the 
king was married, he and his wife, Anne of Austria, were 
never on really good terms, and generally lived apart, — 
a state of affairs tending, of course, to foster Gaston's 
hopes of succession. 

But during a severe illness, Louis XIII. experienced 
a sudden change of heart, and was reconciled to his wife. 
Twenty-three years after their marriage, she gave him the 
son destined to be famous as Louis XIV. The birth of 
this child — such a bitter disappointment to Gaston of Or- 
leans — was a source of intense satisfaction to Richelieu, 
who had never liked Gaston, and was most anxious that 
the crown should never fall into his hands. 

During Richelieu's sway many great reforms were 
effected in the army and navy in France. Besides, Riche- 



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LOUIS XIII. (1610-1O43J 313 

lieu succeeded not only in extending the frontiers in the 
north, but also in conquering Roussillon (roo-see-y6N') in 
the south from the Spanish (1642). While he was at the 
front in this campaign, another conspiracy was hatched 
against him, headed by young noblemen (Cinq Mars and 
De Thou), who were executed in spite of their youth and 
high position. 

Now, the great cardinal had never been strong, and all 
through this last campaign had suffered greatly. By the 
time it was over, he was so weak that he could only travel 
in a litter. This was shaped like a small bedroom, with 
space beside the couch for a table and chair, so that a 
secretary could sit beside him even while traveling, and 
write down the letters and orders he incessantly dictated. 

Perceiving that his end was near at hand. Cardinal 
Richelieu calmly made all his preparations for death, 
and when the last sacrament was brought into his cham- 
ber, solemnly cried : " Here is my judge, who will soon 
pronounce my sentence. I heartily pray that I may be 
condemned if I have ever had other intentions than the 
welfare of the religion and of the state." 

When asked whether he forgave his enemies, Richelieu 
haughtily answered, " I have no enemies, save those who 
are enemies of France!** We are also told that in his last 
interview with his master, Richelieu said : " Sire, I now 
bid you a final farewell in this world. In taking leave of 
your Majesty, I behold your kingdom more powerful than 
ever, and your enemies vanquished.** 

It was then, too, that he designated Mazarin (ma-za-rSN') 
— one of his helpers — as the most capable man to continue 
the workVhich he had carried on so ably during the past 



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3M 



OLD FRANCE 



eighteen years. In his will, Richelieu left his palace, after- 
wards famous as the Palais Royal (pa-le' rwa-yal'), to his 
master. He also bequeathed an extensive library to the 
city of Paris, and has the honor of being the founder of 
the famous French Academy, of establishing the Botan- 
ical Garden (Jardin des 
Plantes), and of rebuilding 
the Sorbonne, where his 
beautiful tomb can still be 
seen. 

Although Louis XIII. 
upheld Richelieu loyally 
against the manifold cabals 
of the nobles, he received 
the news of his minister's 
death very coldly, merely 
remarking, "A great politi- 
cian is gone." Even on the 
day of the funeral, seeing 
that the weather was very 
stormy, he only said, " The 
cardinal has bad weather for 
his last journey ! " These unfeeling comments upon the 
death of a man who had given eighteen years to his ser- 
vice and to that of his country show how very unsympa- 
thetic this king could be. 

Louis XIII. did not long survive the death of the prime 
minister who had made his reign so famous. When about 
to pass away, in his turn, he made arrangements that his 
wife, Anne of Austria, should rule in the name of his four- 
year-old son. The latter, having been privately baptized, 




Lebrun and Girardon. 

Tomb of Richelieu. 



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LOUIS XIII. (1610-1643) 315 

was now officially christened, and was then taken to his 
dying father, who inquired gently, " What is your name, 
my child?" 

The small boy — who had evidently heard some court 
gossip — promptly replied, "My name is Louis XIV.'' 

" No, no, my son, not yet," answered the dying father ; 
" but pray God that it may soon be so." 

Shortly after, when the king had fallen asleep, a servant 
bade this little prince gaze again at his father, saying, 
" My lord, look at the king asleep, so that you may re- 
member him when you are older." 

Louis XIII. left life without regret, for one of his last 
remarks was : " God be praised ! I believe that it is now 
time to take leave of all I love." 

His one pleasure having been the chase, he had built an 
extensive hunting lodge on the site of the present palace 
of Versailles (vSr-sa'y'), where the woods were well stocked 
with game. 

During Louis XIII. *s reign, St. Vincent de Paul — who 
is known as the " Steward of Providence " and the " Apostle 
of Charity" — started the first foundling asylum in Paris, 
founded the well-known community of the Sisters of 
Charity, and organized many other charitable works for 
which he is well known. 

Great men of letters were particularly favored during 
this reign by Richelieu. He delighted in reading the pro- 
ductions of Corneille (c6r-na'y') and Descartes (da-cart'), 
who, together with many others, were just beginning to 
make a name for themselves, and thanks to whom the 
reign of Louis XIV. was to prove one of the most brilliant 
epochs which France had yet seen. 

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3i6 OLD FRANCE 

LXXXI. THE BEGINNING OF A GREAT REIGN 

LOUIS XIII. having died (1643) before his son and 
heir was five years old, Anne of Austria was immedi- 
ately proclaimed regent, as the king's will provided. The 
remainder of the will was, however, utterly disregarded, one 
of the queen mother's first moves being to take the young 
king to the Parliament of Paris to have some of its meas- 
ures annulled. Little Louis XIV. is said to have behaved 
in the most creditable fashion on this occasion, standing 
very still on a high stool, and holding out his hand to be 
kissed, with the utmost gravity and decorum. 

While the queen was nominally at the head of affairs, 
the royal authority was really directed by Cardinal Mazarin, 
the man whom Richelieu designated as most capable to 
carry on his work. An Italian, of rather common extrac- 
tion, unable to express himself in French without betraying 
his foreign origin, Mazarin was equally despised and hated 
by the courtiers, many of whom fancied they should have 
had the privilege of ruling in the regent's name. 

To overcome their opposition and secure his own ends, 
Mazarin cleverly used both flattery and diplomacy. It was 
because of his smooth and insinuating manners that the 
courtiers slyly said, "After the lion comes the fox." 
Richelieu, of course, was the lion, for he had opposed 
them openly, and had never tried to conciliate them by flat- 
tery or concession, as did the sly fox, Cardinal Mazarin ! 

It was mainly by his artful ways that Mazarin won the 
queen's favor, and gained complete influence over her. 
Still, clever as Mazarin was, he made one great mistake, 
for he sorely neglected the education of the little king, who 

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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 317 

should have had every advantage. Thus, he left him un- 
til his seventh year to the care of women, and then abruptly 
turned him over to that of men, who knew little about chil- 
dren, and hence did not succeed in either entertaining or 
instructing him. Nevertheless, the child showed fine ap- 
titudes, and an intense pride which evidently formed the 
basis of his character, and which, if properly directed, 
would have mad^ him greater than he ever became. 

When the history of his country was first read aloud to 
him, Louis XIV.*s youthful ambitions were so greatly 
fired that he boldly announced he was going to emulate 
Charlemagne, St. Louis, and Francis I. ! And he flew 
into a terrible rage when some one reproved him for being 
lazy, by comparing him to Louis the Slothful, one of the 
" do-nothing kings." 

Mazarin*s neglect of the young king's comfort and 
education arose mainly from innate stinginess. He cut 
down expenses to such an extent, we are told, that he would 
allow Louis XIV. only two pairs of sheets a year, saying 
that if they were washed once every six months it would 
be quite enough, as laundering was very expensive! 

With a miserly prime minister and a weak and vain 
mother, Louis XIV. received most of his training from 
his devoted valet, who was so impressed by his master's 
position and dignity that he insisted upon the boy's be- 
having like a king at all times. Once, when the young 
monarch, in playful mood, began to wrestle, this man 
suddenly sat down and put on his hat, two things which 
were never allowed in the presence of the sovereign. This 
unusual conduct on the part of a generally respectful 
attendant so startled and mystified the young prince, that 

uigitizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



3l8 OLD FRANCE 

he paused abruptly in his play to demand haughtily what 
it might mean. Whereupon the valet, resuming his 
wonted bearing, instantly replied : " Pardon, Sire ; I did 
not realize that the king was in the room!" 

As the queen was known to be pleasure-loving, easy- 
going, and gentle, her brother-in-law Gaston and the other 
nobles eagerly clustered around her, flattering her in every 
way, and begging gifts and favors which she freely show- 
ered upon them. Indeed, such were the benefits they 
then received, and such their greedy hopes for the future, 
that they kept singing the regent's praises, until some one 
maliciously suggested that there were only five words left 
in the French language, namely, the oft-heard phrase, 
" The queen is so good ! " 

Louis XIV.'s reign had begun when the French period 
of the Thirty Years' War was just at its height, and it was 
on the very day of his coronation that the battle of Rocroi 
(ro-crwa') took place ( 1643). In this memorable encounter 
the French general, later known as the great Cond6, who 
was then only twenty-two years pld, won a brilliant vic- 
tory over the Spaniards ; but the fame resulting f rohi this 
triumph so completely turned his youthful head that he 
soon after joined a conspiracy formed by some nobles, who 
were of the opinion that they alone should advise the 
queen in Mazarin's stead. 

At the head of the conspirators was the fiery Duke of 
Beaufort, — a grandson of Henry IV., — who planned noth- 
ing less than the murder of Mazarin. But while Beau- 
fort was brave, he was not cautious. So Mazarin, having 
discovered the plot, had this leader locked up in the 
fortress of Vincennes, where he had to remain in close 



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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 319 

confinement until he effected a romantic escape five years 
later. 

Meantime, the Thirty Years' War went on, and Cond6 — 
again in command — helped to win the battle of Freiburg 
(1644), where many brave Frenchmen lost their lives. 
This evidently did not trouble the young general, for when 
his attention was called to the fact, he carelessly retorted, 
"Why, Paris alone daily supplies France with as many 
men as we have lost during all these encounters ! '* 
Though he did not feel for his men, Cond6 could never- 
theless inspire them to do great deeds ; in this battle, for 
instance, it was reported that he suddenly threw his staff 
of command into a trench ahead of him, bidding his men 
follow and help recover it, which they did. 

The next year Condd fought another famous battle 
(Nordlingen), and in 1646 he besieged and took Dun' kirk, 
a very important port on the Channel. But he was not 
the only famous general in France at that time ; Turenne 
(tii-ren') was equally noted for bravery, and shared with 
Cond6 the glory of his great victories. Besides, Turenne 
waged by himself a brilliant and successful campaign in 
Bavaria. 

The war had lasted so long, and the losses had been so 
great, that the enemy were now weary of warfare. Not 
long after another victory by Cond6 at Lens (laN), the 
Thirty Years' War ended with the treaty of Westpha'lia 
(1648). This treaty not only secured France in her recent 
conquests, but assured the independence of both Holland 
and Switzerland. Besides, it placed France again at the 
head of nations, and for one hundred and fifty years there- 
after served as " the basis of common law in Europe.*' 

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320 OLD FRANCE 

LXXXII. THE WARS OF THE FRONDE 

MEANTIME, great changes had been taking place 
in France, where the aristocracy now was every- 
thing, and where the lower classes not only had no influ- 
ence, but were said "not even to possess their own souls." 
The long war had proved so expensive that taxes had 
greatly increased, and loans could now be obtained only 
by paying exorbitant interest, a state of affairs which, by 
adding to the nation's already heavy burdens, fostered 
much discontent. 

In 1648, therefore, the very year that the treaty of 
Westphalia was signed, civil war broke out in France : 
the people and the Parliament of Paris began vehemently 
to oppose the court. This conflict is known as the Fronde 
(fr6Nd) because the rebels acted like the Paris ragamuffins, 
who, armed with slings {frondes), pelted passers-by in the 
suburbs with stones, but scattered and fled whenever the 
guard turned out to call them to account for such mis- 
behavior. 

The first war of the Fronde broke out immediately after 
an attempt on the queen's part to awe the Parliament by 
arresting Broussel (broo-sel'), a member who strongly 
advocated more liberty for the people than the court ap- 
proved. But the Parisians, on learning of his arrest, threw 
up barricades in the streets and angrily demanded Brous- 
sel's release. Their spokesman having failed to secure it 
the first time he went to the palace, the angry mob would 
have torn him to pieces, had he not coolly reminded them 
that they would gain nothing by it. On returning to 
the Tuileries again, this clever man obtained what he 



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LOUIS XIV. (1643-17 15) 321 

wished from the queen regent, by pointing to the little king 
— then playing in the yard — and warning her gravely, 
" Madame, that child is losing his crown ! " 

Still, the trouble did not end with BrousseFs release, for 
several of the discontented nobles gladly seized this oppor- 
tunity to rebel, and helped the people and Parliament. 
They were joined by the Duke of Beaufort, and the dis- 
turbance became so alarming that the court soon fled from 
Paris, taking refuge at St. Germain, where nothing had 
been prepared for its coming. It was customary in those 
days to travel with bed, bedding, kitchen utensils, etc., and 
as in the hurry of departure nothing of the sort had been 
provided, the royal party had to suffer all manner of hard- 
ships. The king, in particular, felt these privations so 
keenly that he took a strong dislike to St. Germain. 

Having escaped in safety from the capital, the queen 
took prompt measures to suppress the Fronde, and ordered 
Cond6 to blockade Paris. Several skirmishes occurred be- 
tween the royal troops and the rebels before an agree- 
ment was reached which put an end to what is known as 
the Parliamentary or Old Fronde (1649). 

Although checked for the present, civil war was not at 
an end. Next year broke out what is known as the Fronde 
of the Princes, or Young Fronde, in which the principal 
nobles took part. Condd himself headed the faction, 
through jealousy of Mazarin, but Was promptly arrested, 
and during his captivity in Vincennes beguiled long hours 
by cultivating carnations, of which he was very proud. 
His friends, however, raised so large an army against 
Mazarin that the unpopular minister was obliged to flee 
from Paris. 

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322 OLD FRANCE 

In the midst of the excitement a rumor spread that the 
court also had again secretly left the city, carrying off the 
little king. At this report the people became frantic, and 
crowded around the palace, clamoring for a sight of their 
sovereign, to make sure he was still in their midst. The 
queen tried to pacify the mob, but perceiving that her 
efforts were vain, she persuaded the little king — who was 
already in bed — to feign sleep, and then admitted a cer- 
tain number of the rioters, bidding them file noiselessly 
through the royal bedchamber and satisfy themselves that, 
as they had been assured, Louis was there, wrapped in 
slumber. 

The king, then twelve years old, pretended sleep 
while these Parisians gazed their fill upon him. But the 
vivid impression left by the clamors of the mob, and this 
night invasion of the palace, were never effaced from his 
mind, and helped to determine him, when older, to take 
up his abode outside of the tumultuous capital. 

Released from prison, Cond6 now sought more and more 
power, but finding, to his disgust, that Mazarin's influence 
still prevailed at court, he resumed his plots with other 
nobles, and began open rebellion against the royal party. 
The king and his mother left Paris, and presently sum- 
moned Mazarin to their assistance. Returning toward the 
capital, the youthful king was taken by Mazarin to 
witness the one great battle of the Young Fronde. This 
encounter took place just outside one of the gates of 
Paris (in the Faubourg St. Antoine), where Turenne, at 
the head of the royal troops, encountered Cond6, lead- 
ing the rebels. Such was the activity which Cond6 dis- 
played on this memorable occasion that Turenne admiringly 

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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 



323 



exclaimed, "I have not seen one Cond6 to-day; I have 
seen more than twelve of them ! " 

In spite of all this energy, Cond6 would have been sorely 
worsted in this battle had not the daughter of Gaston 
(Mile, de Montpensier) mounted to the top of the Bastille, 
and thence boldly di- 
rected the king's cannon 
upon the royal troops, 
thus checking their ad- 
vance. This lady, al- 
though several years 
older than Louis XIV., 
and his cousin besides, 
had been most anxious 
to become Queen of 
France, as Mazarin well 
knew. By siding thus 
openly with the royal 
foes on this occasion, 
however, she forfeited 
her last chance of win- 
ning a crown ; as Maza- 
rin put it, " By that cannon-shot she killed her husband ! " 

Now Mazarin knew that the nobles were united only by 
their dislike of him, and that the Spaniards had been in- 
vited to take part in the war under pretext of ousting him 
from office. He therefore advised the queen to banish 
him from court a second time, and patiently waited for 
the princes to quarrel among themselves. No sooner had 
this come to pass than he returned in triumph. The Par- 
liament of Paris soon submitted; the nobles returned to 




Mile, de Montpensier, Daughter of 
Gaston of Orleans. 



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324 OLD FRANCE 

their allegiance ; and the court came back to Paris, where 
the king was warmly welcomed, but where Mazarin con- 
tinued to be greatly disliked. Instead of making open 
war, however, his foes now vented their spite by writing 
and publishing lampoons against him, which were known 
as " Mazarinades," a name now generally applied to poli- 
tical satires. 

Cond6, the only nobleman who refused to submit, went 
off to join the forces of Spain in Flanders, where Turenne 
faced him in several small encounters, and finally defeated 
him in the great battle of the Downs (Dunes), near 
Dunkirk. Knowing the obstinacy and incapacity of his 
Spanish troops, Cond6 felt sure beforehand that there was 
no hope of winning a victory on this occasion ; so he re- 
marked to a bystander, "Were you ever in a battle, my 
lord.?" 

" No," was the answer. 

"Well, then, in the, course of the next half hour, you 
will see us lose one ! " 

Shortly after this battle, the treaty of the Pyrenees 
(1659) ended the war between France and Spain. It left 
France in possession of her conquests, but provided that 
the great Condd should be pardoned and restored to his 
offices. It also settled the king's marriage, as we shall 
see later on. 

LXXXIII. DEATH OF MAZARIN 

LOUIS XIV. is noted for having been very handsome 
in his youth, with a profusion of curling golden hair, 
which he wore long, a style his courtiers promptly imi- 



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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 325 

tated, resorting to wigs {p^ruques) when nature did not 
provide them with sufficiently luxuriant locks. Owing to 
an illness which left him nearly bald in youth, Louis XIV. 
also wore wigs, which became larger and curlier as time went 
on. All the portraits of the day, therefore, show us smooth 
or mustached faces, fairly embedded in clustering curls, 
which only experienced hairdressers could keep in order. 

Besides natural good looks, Louis had also charming 
manners, on which he greatly prided himself. His court- 
iers related with bated breath that he even took off his 
hat to a chambermaid, if he happened to meet one on his 
way ! Not only did Louis's courtesy win him many friends, 
but it was imitated by all around him, the nobles in par- 
ticular striving to become as polite and dignified as their 
king. Thus "grand manners" became the rule at court 
and in all fashionable assemblies in France. 

Louis XIV. at an early age began to show great fond- 
ness for female society, and soon fell desperately in love 
with one of Mazarin's nieces. The cardinal realized that 
a King of France must contract a royal alliance, so he 
promptly broke up this love affair by sending his niece 
away. When the young king heard that his ladylove was 
to leave court, he was broken-hearted; but the damsel 
hotly reproached him for his idle tears at parting, ex- 
claiming indignantly, ** You are king, and do nothing 
but weep, so / must go away ! " 

Mazarin hoped for a marriage between Louis XIV. and 
Maria Theresa, one of the Spanish princesses, or infantas ; 
and in the treaty of the Pyrenees he secured an agree- 
ment to bring this about. He then hastened to the queen 
mother's room, announcing triumphantly, "Madam, we 



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326 OLD FRANCE 

have both peace and the Infanta!" for he knew how 
greatly such tidmgs would please Anne of Austria, who 
had bewailed the long quarrel with Spain. 

But before the marriage could be concluded, the young 
Spanish princess had to renounce all right to the Spanish 
crown, that is to say, promise that neither she nor her 
children would ever claim it. Mazarin, however, shrewdly 
arranged that this renunciation should be valid only in 
case the queen's huge dowry were paid in full ; and as the 
Spanish court failed to pay, this promise was considered 
invalid later on. 

When all had been settled, the court proceeded in state 
to the frontier to welcome the new queen, and the mar- 
riage was celebrated when the king was only twenty years 
old. Though Louis's young wife was undeniably hand- 
some, he never felt great interest in her, and soon began 
to neglect her, thus setting a pernicious example to his 
court and people. 

Mazarin, who steered the ship of state so cleverly 
through the troubled waters occasioned by the end of the 
Thirty Years' War and the Fronde, somewhat neglected 
French finances, navy, and commerce during the nineteen 
years of his ministry. But this neglect was not wholly 
intentional, for he was generally anxious to do his best for 
his adopted country, and often said, " My heart is French, 
though my language is not." 

Many interesting anecdotes are related about him. For 
instance, when pressed for time, Mazarin once prom- 
ised to give audience to one of the many petitioners 
constantly besieging his door, if the man would make 
known his wants in two words. As soon as admitted, this 



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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 327 

man stared at the cardinal, then at the fire, and gasped, 
** Cold ! hungry ! ** With ready wit Mazarin rejoined, 
** Fire ! bread ! ** and dismissed the petitioner after bestow- 
ing upon him a pension sufficient for his immediate needs. 
Mazarin was a great lover of letters and art, and during 
his lifetime^ accumulated considerable wealth and many 




Painting by Vetter. 

Mazarin. 

art treasures, including a number of pictures by the old 
masters. He was so fond of these masterpieces that, on 
learning his end was near, he had them all brought to him 
in turn, and took leave of them, saying, " Farewell, dear 
pictures that I have loved so dearly and that have cost me 
so much ! " Then he arranged that the majority of them 
should always remain in France; and many of the art 
treasures now in the Louvre are due to him. 

In his last talk with his young king, the prime mi 
o, F. — 21 

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328 OLD FRANCE 

gave him good advice, saying impressively : " Sire, know 
how to respect yourself, and you will be respected. Never 
have a prime minister, but employ Colbert (c5l-bar') when- 
ever you require the assistance of an adviser at once in- 
telligent and devoted.*' A few moments later, he added, 
" I owe you everything. Sire, but I believe I am canceling 
my^obligations to your Majesty by giving you Colbert." 

Mazarin is also known as the founder of a fine library, 
and of the College of the Four Nations, as well as for hav- 
ing annexed to France three important provinces (Artois, 
Alsace, and Roussillon). 



o>aio 



LXXXIV. VERSAILLES 

MAZARIN was dead ! The strong hand which had 
guided affairs of state so long had dropped from 
the helm, and the subordinate ministers, not knowing what 
to do, turned in bewilderment to Louis XIV., asking, "To 
whom shall we apply, henceforth, for orders ? " Louis XIV., 
then just twenty-two, mindful of Mazarin's last recommen- 
dations, drew himself up and quietly answered, " To me.*' 
The king was ambitious and persevering, duly im- 
pressed by his important position, and determined to 
practice faithfully what he himself termed " his trade as 
king." He therefore set immediately to work, and for 
fifty-four years labored regularly eight hours a day at his 
self-imposed ta:sk, presiding over every council, deciding 
every matter in person, and not allowing any paper to leave 
the palace without his approval. 



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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 329 

As Louis's natural abilities were far above the average, 
this close attention to business bore good fruit. People 
soon began to see the truth of Mazarin's statements : 
" There is in him stuff enough for four kings and for one 
honest man ! " and, " He may start out late, but he will go 
farther than any one else ! ** These predictions time was to 
verify, for the reign of Louis XIV. proved the mostglorious, 
as well as the longest, in French history. 

From the death of Mazarin (1661) until his own death 
(1715) Louis had no prime minister, but personally ex- 
ercised the chief authority in the country. Because every- 
thing centered thus in him, he too, as well as Francis I. 
(see page 244), is often considered the founder of absolute 
monarchy in France, or of the system generally known 
as the Old Regime; indeed, it is even said that Louis 
XIV. once declared, " I am the state" ("ZV/^/ c'est 
moV'\ His first speech on assuming the government was : 
" Gentlemen, I have called you together to tell you that up 
to the present day I have been willing to allow the de- 
ceased cardinal to regulate my affairs. Hereafter I in- 
tend to be my own prime minister. You will aid me by 
your counsels whenever I shall ask for them, and I beg 
and command you, Mr. Chancellor, not to seal any docu- 
ments save by my orders, and you, my Secretary of State, 
and Superintendent of Finances, never to sign anything 
save by my orders." 

Louis XIV. was so arbitrary because he believed 
in "the divine right of kings," and because he was 
also firmly convinced " that it is the will of God that he 
who is born a subject should obey and make no question." 
His overweening opinion of his own position and intelli- 



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330 



OLD FRANCE 



gence helped to make him a great historical figure, but 
later on led also to disaster. 

Because he had been frightened by the riots of the 
Fronde in his early childhood, Louis did not wish to 
settle in Paris ; and, because the palaces in the neighbor- 
hood (Fontainebleau, St. Germain, etc.) bore, too clearly 
the imprint of previous kings, he resolved to transform 
his father's modest hunting castle at Versailles into a 




Versailles. 

dwelling worthy of himself. In 1661, therefore, the con- 
struction of the present palace was begun. The work was 
planned by famous architects, the ceilings and walls deco- 
rated by the best painters of the day, the gardens laid out 
by a famous landscape gardener, and adorned with statues 
by noted sculptors. Water in profusion, to feed the many 
fountains and artificial lakes, was brought from a distance, 
full-grown trees were transplanted from remote forests, 
and everything was done to create an abode which all 
the other sovereigns envied and sought to copy, and which 

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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 331 

served, in a way, as a model for the construction of count- 
less other edifices in Europe. To accomplish all this in a 
barren plain, required a host of workmen as well as a 
mint of money, but the king considered nothing but his 
pleasure. 

From 1 66 1 to 17 10 additions and extensions were con- 
stantly made to Versailles, until the palace became one 
of the show places of the world. The cost of all this 
magnificence has been estimated at about four hundred 
million dollars of our money to-day, so you can readily 
imagine that it is a place which must be seen if one wishes 
to have any conception of its extent and beauty. . The 
creation of Louis XIV., it bears at every turn the imprint 
of his taste ; but since 1837 it has been a national museum, 
open to all, and has been filled with priceless treasures of 
art in addition to those secured by its founder. 

In this palace there were apartments for all the mem- 
bers of the royal family, with quarters for their suites, 
guards, and attendants, besides lodgings for the principal 
officers of the court, and for the guests and favorites of 
royalty. Nobles who were not lodged there built villas 
and palaces in the neighborhood, so as to be able to ap- 
pear daily at court; for if nobles failed to pay frequent 
homage to the king, he was apt to remark coldly when 
their names were mentioned, " I do not know them.'* ^ 

The French court took up its abode in Versailles in 
1682, and for the next century this palace was not only the 
horfie of the king, but also the center of government in 
France. It may interest you to hear how Louis XIV. 
spent his days in this ideal residence, and to learn what 
etiquette ruled his court. The first thing in the morning 



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332 OLD FRANCE 

the doors were flung wide open to admit the waiting crowd 
of courtiers. These were " the grand entries *' (grandes 
entr^es)y when all who wished to see the king flocked into 
an antechamber, known as the Bull's Eye (CEil de Bceuf) 
on account of its oval window. 

Special favorites were thence admitted to the king's 
bedroom, to witness his morning toilet {petit lever). As 
soon as this was over, the king, richly clad, emerged to 
greet the waiting throng, and, attended by an obsequious 
court, proceeded to chapel to hear mass. After service 
he was escorted back in state to the room where he gave 
audience to those waiting to confer with him, before pre- 
siding over his council. Being very punctual himself, 
Louis always insisted upon great promptness, and once, 
when one of his ministers entered the council room by 
another door just as he appeared, he haughtily remarked, 
" Sir, I almost had to' wait ! " 

It was customary for the king to eat his one o'clock 
dinner in state. He sat alone at a table under the royal 
canopy, while the various members of the royal family, 
the princes and invited guests, dined at other tables. 
During this meal, any one — if clean and neatly dressed — 
was allowed to pass through the hall to gaze at the king ; 
and the courtiers made it a point to be in attendance, for 
the king's brother, or in case of his absence, the next in 
rank, had the exalted privilege of handing Louis XIV. 
his napkin ! 

After dinner the crowd followed the king down the 
great staircase to the beautiful grounds for an afternoon 
walk, the gentlemen being granted permission to don 
their hats — until then held in the hand or tucked under 



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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 333 

the arm — by a gracious gesture and the words, " Your 
hats, gentlemen ! " 

After a walk, drive, or hunt, for the sake of sociability 
and exercise, the king was again closeted with his minis- 
ters ; and the busy day was followed by a concert, play, or 
ball. The sumptuous royal supper, to which the king 
invited any guest he pleased, was always served at ten 
o'clock. At bedtime, after taking ceremonious leave of 
the main part of his courtiers in the antechamber, the 
king was solemnly escorted to his room by a select few ; 
and one courtier was finally allowed each evening to 
hold the royal candlestick while his Majesty said his 
prayers and climbed into bed! 

All day long the Versailles courtiers vied with one 
another in attentions to the king and to the court ladies, 
conversing gayly and exchanging witty remarks. In fact 
life at court was so brilliant, that the worst disgrace which 
could befall a member of the aristocracy was to incur royal 
displeasure and to be banished from Versailles. There 
was, therefore, no extravagance that lords and ladies were 
not ready to commit to win the king's attention or favor, 
and no flattery too fulsome to be lavished upon him. One 
courtier, walking with the king in the gardens of Marly 
(mar-lee') and overtaken there by a shower, was heard to 
assure his master, " Ah, Sire, Marly rain does not wet ! '* 
When Louis became old and complained that he had no 
teeth, a young lord, though himself well supplied with 
them, boldly exclaimed, "Ah, Sire, who is there, then, 
that has any teeth ? " Even a cook committed suicide 
because the fish one day did not arrive in time for the 
king's dinner! ' 



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334 OLD FRANCE 

LXXXV. THE IRON MASK ' 

AS we have seen, Louis began his independent reign 
by proceeding to supervise everything himself, but 
his principal adviser was Colbert, who had served Mazarin, 
and was therefore well posted about all government matters. 
Colbert soon informed the young monarch that there was 
something amiss in regard to Fouquet (foo-ke'), minister 
of finance, who, beginning his duties as a poor man, 
was at the end of a few years noted for great wealth. 
At first the king would not credit such tales, but before 
Mazarin had been in his grave many months Fouquet's 
stealings became too glaring to be ignored, and his fall 
can>e about in a dramatic way. 

It seems that Fouquet once invited the king to his coun- 
try home, where the great magnificence of his establish- 
ment eclipsed everything that had hitherto been seen at 
court. Louis XIV., who expected to be first in everything, 
gazed around him in wondering displeasure, and sho\ved 
his wrath by remarking coldly, " I shall never again, 
sir, venture to invite you to visit me, for you would find 
yourself inconvenienced!.*' Still apparently polite and 
well entertained, Louis soon came to the conclusion that all 
this -wealth could not have been obtained by honest means. 
It is possible, however, that Fouquet would only have 
been deprived of office, had not the king discovered that 
his dishonest minister dared to rival him in another line. 

Louis had recently begun to pay court to a beautiful 
young lady. Mademoiselle de La Valliere (mad-mwa-zSl' de 
la va-ly^r'), over whose graceful head he once, at a picnic, 
held his plumed hat to protect her from a summer shower. 



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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 



335 



•*' . ■ ^ 


/• '-^• 






■ 


^^^P^R^lCiiBi.A . .-^ 



Painting by Morion. 

Louis XIV. and Mademoiselle de La Valli^re. 

The king's infatuation was no secret, so no one else ven- 
tured to pay this lady attentions, for fear of arousing royal 
jealousy. It is said, however, that Fouquet, also smitten 
with this fair lady's charms, secreted her portrait in a 
private room, where it was closely covered by a curtain, 
so that the gaze of the vulgar might never rest upon it. 

By some accident Louis went into this very apartment, 
where his attention was naturally attracted by the shrouded 
painting. Wishing to gratify his curiosity, the king quickly 
pushed aside the curtain, and so discovered the full extent 
of his minister's perfidy. In his wrath, the king soon after 
had Fouquet arrested, and confiscated all his possessions. 

Nineteen years later, it was publicly reported that 
Fouquet had died in one of the king's fortresses. But about 
the same time a mysterious prisoner was first mentioned 

uigiTizea Dy vjiOOQlC 



33^ OLD FRANCE 

in France. This man, evidently some important person- 
age, was treated with great respect by his jailers, but no 
one was ever allowed to converse privately with him, or 
even to catch a glimpse of his face, which was always 
covered by a velvet mask. As this mask was black, it 
was said to be of iron, and, because no name was ever 
given to this captive, he was popularly known as " the 
Iron Mask." Many stories are told about him, some of 
which you will like to hear. 

From one fortress to another this prisoner traveled 
through France, each governor being obliged in turn to 
answer with his life for the man's safe detention. For a time 
the Iron Mask was locked up in a iower overlooking the 
sea, and one day, it is said, he managed to scratch a few 
words on a silver dish, which he flung through the bars 
out of his window. A poor fisherman, casting his nets in 
that neighborhood, drew up this silver vessel, which he im- 
mediately carried to the castle, in hopes of securing a rich 
reward. He obstinately refused, however, to give it up or 
even to show it to any one save the governor, who, on 
catching sight of the words scratched on the smooth silver 
surface, turned ghastly pale. Finding, however, by close 
cross-questioning, that the fisherman did not know how to 
read, and had not shown his find to any one, the governor 
congratulated the man upon his ignorance and caution, 
grimly declaring that to them he owed his life. 

In time the Iron Mask was conveyed to the Bastille in 
Paris, where he died in 1703, after being, some say twenty- 
four, and others forty-three, years a prisoner. But even 
then the mystery was not revealed, for we are told that no 
one was permitted to see the dead man's features. 



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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 337 

The Man in the Iron Mask is one of the great puzzles 
in history, because no great person is known to have dis- 
appeared at that time. There are many theories about 
him, but as no positive proof exists that any one of these 
is correct, you may think what you please. Dumas 
(dii-ma'), the great French novelist, romantically asserted 
that the Man with the Iron Mask was a twin brother of 
Louis XIV., so exactly like him that they could not be 
told apart. He claimed that this prince was kept in prison 
lest trouble should arise for the state, but that if anything 
untoward had happened during Louis XIV.*s minority, his 
twin brother would undoubtedly have been put in his 
place, without any one suspecting the substitution. 

Another theory is that this man was Fouquet, who, 
although his death had been openly announced, was still 
made to suffer for having dared to raise his eyes to the 
king's favorite, if not for having robbed the state ! 

A third supposition — the least romantic, but most 
plausible — is that a secretary of the Duke of Man'tua, try- 
ing to cheat the French government, was secretly seized and 
imprisoned by, Louis's orders. These are only three out 
of many versions of the story of the mysterious prisoner, 
to which you will find many allusions both in history and 
in fiction. 

LXXXVI. LOUIS XIV.'S EARLY CAMPAIGNS 

THE garden party given by the dishonest Fouquet was 
not the only great outdoor entertainment of the time. 
About a year after, the court held a fine pageant, called 



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338 OLD FRANCE 

Carrousel (car-oo-zel') on the square before the Louvre, 
which ever since has been known by that name. On this 
occasion, a quadrille on horseback was danced by the 
courtiers, all dressed with the utmost magnificence to rep- 
resent characters in myth and allegory. Even the king 
and queen appeared in fancy costume, and Louis, having 
elected to personate the sun, wore $2,500,000 worth of 
diamonds, which flashed and glittered so that they won for 
him the title of " King Sun *' {le Rot Soldi), by which 
he was generally known thereafter. This brilliant social 
event is the subject of a painting which how adorns the 
picture gallery of Versailles. 

Being young, the king greatly enjoyed stir and activity, 
and, anxious to shine in every field, he was not at all 
sorry when a pretext arose for a war with Spain (1667). 
You remember, do you not, that Louis had married a 
Spanish princess.^ Her father had now just died, leaving 
all his lands to her little step-brother; but Louis XIV. 
claimed that while this child undoubtedly had a right to 
the crown of Spain, he had none whatever to the Spanish 
Netherlands (now Belgium), which by Flemish law shoul.d 
devolve instead upon the children of the first wife. 

As the Spaniards were not ready to agree to this, war 
resulted, and Louis went off to join his army, which in a 
few weeks* time conquered Flanders and Franche-Comte 
(fraNsh-coN-ta'). So little fighting was done, however, in 
this campaign, that it was playfully said, "Louis might 
have sent his valet to take possession of the country in his 
name, and have saved himself the trouble of going in 
person ! " But if Louis did not have a chance to distin- 
guish himself in battle, he received as many compliments 

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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 339 

as if he had done wonderful things, and greatly enjoyed 
his novel experiences. 

The war of " the Devolution of Flanders," which was 
little more than a military promenade, was concluded by 
the treaty of Aix-la-Cbapelle, which added a piece of 
land to France in the north. It soon led, however, to an- 
other conflict, with Holland (1672- 1678), which was waged 
partly because Louis's vanity was sorely wounded by the 
fun the Dutch made of his recent campaign, and partly 
because the Dutch navy kept interfering with the com- 
merce of France. 

Once more " King Sun *' set out at the head of his army, 
splendidly organized by his war mihister, Louvois (loo-vwa'), 
seyerely drilled by Martinet' and others (whence a strict 
disciplinarian is still often termed "a Martinet**), and 
magnificently generaled by the great Cond6, Turenne, 
and others. 

A tremendous fuss was made at court when news came 
that the French army had forded the Rhine and had 
driven away the troops guarding the passage. Poems 
were written about it, and great speeches made, for stay- 
at-homes fancied that the king and his army had breasted 
the waves at the risk of their lives, whereas, in fact, the 
French had merely forded a shallow part of the stream, 
almost unopposed by the enemy. 

Town after town was captured. The Hollanders, un- 
prepared for an invasion, then tried to compromise; and 
their great statesmen, the De Witt brothers, corresponded 
actively with Louvois on this subject. In fact, had not the 
Hollanders suddenly overthrown the existing government, 
torn the De Witts to pieces, and placed William of Orange 



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340 OLD FRANCE 

at the head of affairs, these negotiations might have re- 
sulted favorably. This William of Orange, however, was 
an excellent and uncompromising leader. When he saw 
that the French had nearly reached Am'sterdam, he did 
not hesitate to have the dikes broken and flood the 
country ! This move checked the advance of the French, 
and gave William ample time to secure the alliance of both 
Spain and Germany to continue the war. 

When the German princes began to threaten the north- 
eastern frontier of France, Louis changed his plans, and 
for the second time conquered Franche-Comt6. In later 
campaigns, Cond^ won the battle of Seneffe (se-nef, 1674) 
over the Prince of Orange, and Turenne — who had done 
wonders in many smaller engagements — was killed at 
Sasbach (zas'baK, 1675). 

The cannon ball which killed Turenne carried off at the 
same time the arm of one of his officers. When this 
man's son was trying to comfort him, he quickly replied : 
** You should not weep for me, but for the death of 
this great man. You may love your father, but neither 
you nor the country will ever find such a general again ! " 
As for the soldiers, when they heard Turenne was dead, 
they all wailed, "Our father is dead; we are lost!" 
The general whom they thus almost worshiped was 
buried first at St. Denis, among the French kings, 
and then in a chapel of the Invalides (aN-va-leed'), 
where his tomb is second in interest only to that of 
Napoleon. 

It may interest you to read a few anecdotes about the 
brave general, who is one of the great French heroes. 
For instance, Turenne was noted for always keeping his 



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LOUIS XIV. (1643-171S) 341 

promises. Once, when held up by highwaymen, he 
begged them not to take a ring he wore, offering to give 
them more than it was worth, if they would only call at his 
house for the money. When he was freed on these terms, 
some one suggested that he should use this opportunity to 
have the thieves arrested ; but Turenne indignantly re- 
fused, saying : " The promise of an honest man is invio- 
lable. He should never fail to keep his word, even if he 
did give it to rascals ! '* . 

Another time, when dressed in white, Turenne was vig- 
orously clapped on the shoulder by a valet, who mistook 
him for the cook. Suddenly perceiving his error, the 
offender fell down on his knees, gasping, ** My lord, I 
thought you were George ! " But, instead of the angry dis- 
mi^al he expected, he heard only the calm rejoinder, 
" Well, even had I been George, you need not have hit so 
hard ! " 

While Turenne knew the sense of fear, he never yielded 
to it. Once, when about to mount his horse, he perceived 
that his knees were shaking violently, and remarked 
with a queer smile, ** If my knees only knew where I am 
going to take them, they would shake even harder ! ** 
Besides physical courage, Turenne possessed what is much 
rarer, true moral courage. Thus, he stanchly refused to 
fight a duel, simply because it was against the law. When 
his opponent taunted him with cowardice, Turenne proposed 
that they should undertake, in common, some perilous ad- 
venture for the country's good, saying proudly, " Let us 
see which of us will best carry it out ! " 

In one battle Turenne noticed that his staff seemed mor- 
tified because they could not help ducking when a cannon 

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342 



OLD FRANCE 



ball whistled over their heads. Always genial and sympa- 
thetic, he tactfully cried : " Boys, you are right. Such vis- 
itors well deserve a curtsy ! " 

Before this war ended, the French admiral Duquesne 
(dii-kan') won several naval battles in the Mediterranean, 
but received neither praise nor reward for this triumph, 

simply because 
he was a Hu- 
guenot, — a sect 
not in favor at 
court. In pro- 
testing against 
such unfair 
treatment, Du- 
quesne was 
heard to mutter, 
"It is true that I 
am a Protestant, 
but I thought 
that my services 
were Catholic!'* 
The treaty 
of Nim'^wegen 
(1678), which ended the war with Holland, extended the 
boundaries of France on the north and on the west. It 
also marked the highest point of the reign of Louis 
XIV., whom his people thereafter proudly termed " Louis 
the Great" and "the Great Monarch** (le grand Mo- 
narque). It was in commemoration of his military feats 
in this campaign that Louis XIV. erected two per- 
manent triumphal arches (Porte St. Denis and Porte St. 

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The Porte St. Denis. 



LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 343 

Martin) in Paris, where they still stand, the admiration 
of all who behold them. 



LXXXVII. MADAME DE MAINTENON 

THANKS to Louis XIV/s executive ability, and to 
his famous helpers, Colbert and Louvois, the period 
from 1674 to 1689 proved most prosperous for France. 
In fact, the country progressed more in those fifteen years 
than it did in the next hundred. 

After Fouquet*s disgrace, Colbert became minister of 
finances and was charged to watch over the commer- 
cial, agricultural, and industrial interests of the country. 
Although it was Colbert's office to supply money enough 
for the king's wars, buildings, and other extravagances, he 
earnestly tried to dipiinish and equalize the taxes, and to 
check a dangerous tendency to borrow money. He also 
encouraged the planting of flax and cotton, and of mul- 
berry trees (for the silkworm industry), had roads built, 
and supplied funds for digging the great canal which con- 
nects the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean 
(Canal du Languedoc). He also founded factories for mak- 
ing cloth, silk, mirrors, tapestry, carpets, lace, etc., and en- 
couraged and protected the French colonies, which until 
his day had been rather neglected. 

Colbert faithfully served the king from Mazarin's death 
until his own in 1683, although his last days were saddened 
by the knowledge that Louvois had supplanted him in the 
royal favor. When a letter from the king was handed to 
him on his death bed, he refused to read it, saying bitterly, 



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344 OLD FRANCE 

like Wokey:^ " I will not hear the king spoken of again. 
Let me die in peace. It is to the King of Kings I now 
have to answer. Had I done for God what I have done 
for that man, I should have found salvation ten times 
over, and now I do not know what will become of me ! " 
The people wrongly blamed Colbert for the heavy taxes, and 
hated him^so intensely that they would have liked to insult 
his remains ; he therefore had to be buried secretly at night. 
But he is now generally recognized as the creator of French 
industry, commerce, navy, and finances. 

Louvois, of whom the dying Colbert was so jealous, not 
only reformed the army but established the famous naval 
ports of Brest and Toulon (too-16N'), and by diplomatic 
arts enabled France to take possession of the city of Strass- 
burg in time of peace without striking a single blow (i 68 1). 
For nearly two hundred years thereafter this fortified town 
belonged to France, and was one of the principal French 
strongholds on the northeast. 

The defenses of Strassburg were greatly strengthened 
by Vauban (vo-baN'), — Louis's great military engineer, — 
who is said to have created an ** iron frontier " by repair- 
ing. five hundred old forts and building fifty -five new ones. 
He is also said to have been present at fifty-three sieges, 
and to have taken part in one hundred and forty-three en- 
gagements. His talents were such that French people 
said, "A city besieged, by Vauban is a taken city; a city 
fortified by. Vauban is an impregnable city!'* Although 
personally bold to the verge of foolhardiness, Vauban was 
always careful of his men's lives, and so loyal a Frenchman 
that he earned the title of " Patriot." 

^ See Story of the English^ p. 214. 



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LOUIS XIV. (1643-1715) 345 

War having ceased at home after the t-reaty of Nim- 
wegen, Louis turned his attention to the serious depreda- 
tions of the Bar'bary pirates, and put an end to them by 
sending a fleet to bombard Algiers', Tunis, and Trip'oli, 
and to liberate the Christian captives detained there in 
hard slavery. Then, having discovered that the people of 
Genoa had secretly supplied these pirates with ammunition, 
Louis next had that city bombarded also, and refused to 
make peace until the Doge (president of the republic) came 
in person to Versailles to apologize. The constitution of 
Genoa, however, strictly forbade the Doge's leaving this 
city while in office, so when a courtier asked him what 
surprised him most among all the wonders he beheld at 
Versailles, he simply and truthfully answered, " It is to 
see myself here ! " 

Maria Theresa, Louis's queen, died in 1683. Although 
Louis had not been a good husband, he had always treated 
her with outward courtesy, and when she had passed 
away, he said, " God has deprived me of a consort who 
never gave me any cause for grief except by her death." 
She had done her duty by giving her husband a son to in- 
herit the crown ; but the court made only a pretense of 
mourning her death. 

Tired of favorites, — one of whom, Madame de Mon- 
tespan', had much influence over him for many years, — 
Louis XIV. at last secretly married the governess of his 
children, Madame de Maintenon '(mix-t'-ndN'), a lady 
whom the courtiers punningly called Madame de Main- 
tenant (mSN-t'-naN')— meaning the present madam. She 
was, however, never openly recognized as queen, although 
she was often present at the royal council, and the king 

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